Why the City needs to step up to get the young on the job ladder

Shaun Thomson
Graduates Celebrate On The Southbank
Source: Getty

The class of 2017 is about to hit the job market.

This equates to hundreds of thousands of school and university leavers, many of who will be vying for a small amount of entry-level positions in the City.

It’s our job to help getting these young people on the job ladder, but as these applicants often have limited experience and businesses have restricted recruitment resources, it is so very easy to get it wrong.

So how are City businesses perpetuating the problem of youth unemployment and, crucially, how can they get it right?

Firstly, we need to have a frank reality check about why so many school leavers and graduates will still find themselves jobless in 2018.

The blame game

For the last decade we have been stuck in a vicious “blame game” cycle.

Business leaders say it’s schools’ responsibility, and then they immediately pass the baton back by saying that they have their hands full trying to get students to pass exams. After all, five GCSE passes are normally a prerequisite on the most basic of job criteria, and a 2:1 is required to qualify for the majority of City graduate schemes.

The young people themselves can’t help but exacerbate the problem. They know getting that first job is hard and it makes them desperate to accept anything they are offered. But then they inevitably find themselves in the wrong job, which is why the average tenure for a young person’s first job is less than 18 months.

No business wants to be in a position where they feel they may need to rehire soon. This is why if you look at job sites you’ll see caveats such as “minimum of two years experience” being put in place for even the most basic of roles. Maybe you do it yourselves because you’ve had a bad experience.

The problem is that when City businesses collectively do this it perpetuates the problem of youth unemployment.

Running a standalone graduate scheme once every couple of years doesn’t give you immunity. To break this vicious cycle of youth unemployment, businesses of all sizes must dramatically change their recruitment strategy.

Breaking the cycle

To break the cycle, businesses in the City must fundamentally rethink why they hire for entry-level positions.

Young applicants write CVs in way they hope will address the mundane job descriptions, and they say whatever they hope the interviewer wants to hear, if they get that far in the recruitment process.

Should they be lucky enough to be offered the role, it won’t be until they are employed that they realise they aren’t suited to a company culture or the duties they have been given.

This whole process needs to be flipped on its head. Just because someone can theoretically do a job, doesn’t mean they will, and it certainly doesn’t mean that they will thrive in all business environments.

This is why businesses need to identify the type of person that would suit their company, and the right soft skills that will complement their existing team dynamic and company culture. After all, skills can be taught, but changing attitude at best takes a very long time and is sometimes impossible.

Identify right employees

By putting together job descriptions and recruitment processes that identify the right type of person, businesses will be able to enhance the success rate of good hires.

People stay at companies where they respect the corporate values, and where the business values them. By taking on a young person based on attitude, they can be developed and taught the right skills to start a career within the organisation. And finally young people can stop being discriminated against for lack of experience.