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What do employers want from young recruits?

03 April 2013

The latest Prospects Interchange event took place at the National Career Guidance Show at Olympia on Thursday last week. The event considered how employers and careers advisers are working to reduce the gap between career aspirations of young Britons and future labour market demand. The event was well timed; the day before, the UK Commission for Employment & Skills and Education and Employers Taskforce launched its latest research findings on the same theme.

Dr Deirdre Hughes OBE, Commissioner at the UK Commission for Employment & Skills, chaired the event and started by talking about some of the issues facing companies and young people. She mentioned the "human capital crunch" which the UK is facing as a result of young people following career paths without proper, well-informed careers advice, which can lead to dead ends, if young people are educated and trained for careers where few opportunities exist. Deirdre then invited the speakers on the panel to share their experience and insight.

Alison Heron of KPMG spoke about the various programmes KPMG offers to young people. Alison said KPMG's motivation for working with young people was to widen access to careers within the business. She described the difficulty KPMG has in finding partner schools and engaging parents.
Mark Wakefield of IBM discussed changes in the workplace and noted that many employers have not considered sufficiently carefully what they want in a new recruit, wanting a readymade employee. Mark introduced various routes into working for IBM, and described the work they do helping people prepare for work through CV and interview workshops and mentoring.

Joe Billington, Director of the National Careers Service, gave an overview of the NCS and its role in helping people think about careers, not just jobs. He described NCS careers advisers' work with employers to gain insight and match recruits with employers accurately, meeting their needs. Joe spoke about changes to further education and encouraged everyone to get involved in consultations to influence policy. Questions and comments were invited from the floor.

Questions were asked about equalising employment opportunities for state and privately educated young people, and how employers could engage more effectively with schools. A careers adviser shared her experience of getting employers into schools. Local Enterprise Partnerships were suggested as a vehicle for bringing schools and employers together. A questioner commented that as many young people cannot find Saturday jobs these days, it is hard for them to gain work experience. McDonalds was praised as a good practice employer which develops many of the traits employers want from new recruits. There were also comments on parental engagement from the Campaign for Learning and Financial Skills Partnership.

Prospects Interchange is free to join, and gives representatives of business and education a forum to discuss issues around learning, skills and employability.

Find out more about Prospects Interchange

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