Too many young people lack skills for work

QUEST PROFESSIONAL

THERE’S no doubt these are tough economic times, particularly for graduates and young people vying for limited roles in an increasingly competitive job market.

The resounding sentiment among young people is a fear that they are not entirely prepared for the work. Having practical and personal skills that are useful in the workplace is just as valuable as being flexible and ambitious.

We are fortunate enough to work with some of the best employers in the UK, who all tend to give us the same feedback when looking at employing young people. They tell us that they see too many people who lack many of the basics such as IT skills, an understanding of financial procedures and even standard office protocols. Companies are having to go into schools to talk to potential young talent at an early age.

There is no longer the rigid “degree-only” criteria that used to apply across the board. Companies are using a range of innovative ways to attract young talent, mindful that the type of candidates they are now after may not necessarily use traditional means of job hunting.

That means using things such as social media to attract talent, rather than relying only on the traditional advertising, offering more flexible working schedules including working from home occasionally and even access to Facebook on office machines.

Rather than just looking at the quality of a degree, large City companies are now looking for more personal skills. They want to see evidence that a young person is self-aware, has the ability to take responsibility, is consistent and capable of taking initiative and willing to be adaptable. Working in the City can be the first time a lot of young people are in an environment where things are not handed to them on a plate and the ability to take feedback without getting a chip on their shoulder is also a key asset that companies now seek through their selection tests.

We see so many graduates that don’t know many of the basic business skills and need to be nurtured so they are fully prepared for the business environment. There are a number of options available to young people and graduates looking to make themselves more appealing to employers and land that dream job. Completing a short business course or on an internship to build some experience into their CV is the most important first step that employers look for.

Courses that are specifically tailored to suit a young person’s needs not only ensure that they approach employers with all the necessary skills but also shows the employer that they are able to offer immediate value to an organisation.

Companies are increasingly also looking to see that even the youngest of recruits have already gained some work experience. There is no substitute for real experience and it also gives them a chance to impress potential future employers.

With employers and employees both becoming increasingly demanding, job hunting is becoming even more challenging, but the opportunities for a more productive workforce can only benefit from the increased focus on personal, as well as professional talents.
Carlie Santoro is recruitment manager at Quest Professional.