Beyond the Business Case: The Employer’s Role in tackling Youth Unemployment

This paper from the United Kingdom explores the benefits to employers from hiring youth and provides several concrete recommendations for employing young staff.

While some businesses don’t see the business case for employing young people, the article points out a number of benefits of employing young people, including:

  1. Building a future workforce – the opportunity to “mold” a young person to suit the employer’s culture and way of working;
  2. Digital literacy – young people tend to have good levels of digital literacy and the ability to effectively use technology;
  3. Enthusiasm, flexibility, and new insights – young people tend to be the “breath of life” in an organization, engaging the wider staff with more social activities, more flexibility around working arrangements, and having more awareness of the recent advances in their field;
  4. Cost – young people generally are more cost-effective to employ than older workers;
  5. Staff Retention – young people tend to stay in a firm longer than older recruits as a result of employers investing heavily in their young staff through apprenticeships or other training opportunities;
  6. Company profile and brand – employing young people can raise the profile of a business or brand which increases the employer’s level of community engagement;
  7. Local area and sector benefits – employing young people may assist with the local economy.

Alongside the above benefits, the paper also presents some barriers that employers should be aware of when recruiting young job seekers. The main barriers are:

  1. Inability to rely on informal recruitment processes – more challenging to hire young people through informal networks as they typically do not have access to these networks;
  2. Insufficient work experience – young people tend to not have the level of work experience that employers are demanding;
  3. Emphasis on qualification levels – employers need to be aware that young people may be excluded when job descriptions demand higher educational qualifications;
  4. Negative perceptions of young people among some employers – employers’ own biases about young people’s lack of communication and teamwork skills may preclude them from hiring younger staff.

The paper explores ways in which employers can help young people develop the attributes needed to succeed in the labor market. Some of the approaches include:

  1. Recruiting young people who are currently in full time education can ease their transitions between school and work;
  2. Recognize that work experience is critical for re-engaging young people who are not in education or work;
  3. Apprenticeship programs are a good route for work for young people to gain the skills to be more employable.

The paper outlines several key recommendations for employers and policy makers to engage young people to help them better prepare for the labor market, make their recruitment process as youth-friendly as possible, and ultimately change employers’ negative perceptions of young people as potential employees. The key message of this paper is that by influencing employers to invest in young people, more young job seekers will be to acquire the skills and experience required to succeed in the labor market.