How to solve the millennial unemployment catch 22

Jack Parsons
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Millennials all love cats (Source: Getty)

In London, around 100,000 young people are unemployed.

With some 19 per cent of 16-24 year olds out of work, our city is significantly lagging the national average. Generally speaking, the young are three times more likely to be unemployed than adults.

This is strange, because no doubt, many of them have valuable, transferable skills, that are indispensable to the modern workplace. So where are we going wrong?

Catch 22

Young people often find themselves locked out of the workplace for lack of experience. Yet businesses which aren’t willing to take a chance on these skilled, ambitious, youngsters are fuelling this catch 22.

Consider this conundrum. No experience equals no job, yet, no job means no experience.

Businesses still too often recruit solely on work experience, qualifications and degrees. If you’re lucky, then comes the lengthy, and – quite frankly – demoralising interview process, where one is pitted against thousands of other nervous interviewees.

Big business is leading a change in direction

Refreshingly, recent years have seen big businesses – most publicly the Big Four consulting firms – pull back from degrees and Ucas points as qualifying recruitment factors.

But there is still a long way to go.

Some 75 per cent of the global workforce will be made up of millennials by 2025. This is a significant number, impossible to ignore, and really drives home the importance for businesses to attract, retain and engage with this key demographic.

Millennial inclusive

For businesses not currently investing in the millennial workforce, be more inclusive. And let people know about it. Ensure your firm is shown to be within reach of millennials, by opening up the recruitment process to those who may not have taken a traditional education route.

Those who may have left school at 16 to pursue a vocational interest; those who were unable to continue in education due to having to care for others; those whose skills simply don’t suit academia.

Values and culture

A business will grow much faster and stronger if it brings in a mix of different skills. However, this isn’t just about the bottom line. It’s about changing the culture – bringing in new ideas and a fresh perspective.

A business’ values are what ultimately attracts talent. But unfortunately, applicants’ values are rarely given as much respect, with focus instead being on the content of their CV and the letters after their name.

Let’s say your business is built on honesty, passion, bravery, and loyalty. You find an individual with these qualities – but not necessarily a first-class degree to sit alongside them. Surely, it would be bad commercial sense to show them the door?

Businesses should use the summer lull (if such a thing still exists) to revisit the values they are built on, and refresh their recruitment process off the back of this.

Promote your values and purpose astutely throughout your industry.

Turn employees, clients and suppliers into advocates. Then recruit on the skills, values and ambition which neatly align to these.

Think outside the box

Some 1.3m young people in the UK spend six months or more not in education, employment or training. This is a captive audience from which businesses can recruit fresh talent.

Don’t turn your nose up at those who haven’t been able to get the experience that they may have liked to. And don’t put everyone who doesn’t meet the checklist in the same box.

Millennials aren’t a tickbox – they are the future.

Jack Parsons is chief executive of Yourfeed.

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