SMEs lag behind number of companies employing young people

The number of organisations who employ young people under the age of 25 has risen to almost eighty per cent, compared to less than three quarters last year.

New data from the CIPD, the professional body for HR and people development, launched during National Apprenticeship Week, also highlights that SMEs are lagging behind larger organisations when it comes to offering opportunities and engaging with young people.

The survey however found that less than 58 per cent of SMEs currently employ anyone aged 16-24, compared to more than 93 per cent in large organisations.

Although the percentage of employers that currently offer entry-level opportunities aimed at young people has substantially increased over the last 12 months, up to 76 per cent from 65 per cent in 2013, SMEs are offering far fewer opportunities.

Speaking about the findings Katerina Rüdiger, Head of Volunteering and Employability Campaigns at the CIPD, commented: “As employment levels continue to improve it’s encouraging to see that more organisations are employing young people and developing their own talent pipelines by doing so. Large employers in particular are more likely to offer a range of entry level opportunities compared to this time last year, including Apprenticeships, graduate schemes and work experience placements. Many are also taking other steps to help young people, such as engaging with local schools and colleges, which shows a genuine commitment to supporting education to work transitions.

“However, as a high proportion of jobs in the UK are created by SMEs, it’s essential that they are also equipped to bring in and nurture younger workers and have the information they need to create a clear youth engagement strategy. Only once they too are engaged with tackling youth unemployment can we be confident that the problem has been truly cracked.”

Doug Shaw, Director at What Goes Around Limited, highlights how, even as one of the UK’s many micro-businesses, there are still ways to provide opportunities for young people and help broaden their understanding of the world of work: “Big businesses are often in a better position to provide opportunities and support to young people as they enter the labour market. However, after taking time to talk to young people it became clear that even as a small business, I too can play a role in helping them.”

“I’ve recently started offering student work placements and also signed up to Inspiring the Future, a fantastic initiative which allows schools and colleges to invite volunteers in to give careers talks and CV and interview advice sessions.”In the coming months, the CIPD will be publishing a toolkit to help SMEs with their youth engagement strategies.

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