A recent study by CIPD suggests that whilst organisations as a whole are improving when it comes to the opportunities that they offer young people, small and medium sized businesses are lagging behind.
Almost 50% of companies now offer apprenticeships, and 80% employ at least one young person. SMEs though were much less likely to pull their weight in these key areas.
Graduate recruitment was another indicator that smaller businesses didn’t measure up. Just one in ten offered a graduate training programme, whilst 51% of bigger companies used this as a part of their strategy to attract talent and nurture its leaders of the future.
Katerina Rudiger, Head of volunteering and employability campaigns at CIPD, suggested that change would be essential to solve the problem of youth unemployment. She said: ‘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.’
Of course though, it’s important to recognise that this isn’t a burden to SMEs or a box-ticking exercise that conscientious employers should approach just because they want to save face and look like they’re doing ‘the right thing’.
Doing all you can to create and cultivate a diverse workforce, that embraces the varying skills and talents of all its employees, can be great for your business and your bottom line. It can hugely improve your employer brand, attract the best people in their fields to your company, and rocket productivity. It is quite simply a savvy business practice to put equality and inclusion right at the top of your agenda.
It could be the case that offering a graduate scheme, forming connections with local schools and colleges and considering work experience placements could all be strategies that you might want to add to your list. Taking practical steps like this could make the difference between being an average employer, and being an exemplary employer.