While the majority of employers are satisfied with their young recruits, a not insignificant minority are not. The next chart shows what proportion of employers (who have recruited a young person) have found their young recruits to be poorly prepared for a variety of reasons. The overwhelming factors are experience and attitude or motivation. Of all the employers who have taken on a 16 year old school leaver 23 per cent found them to lack experience and 18 per cent cited attitude.
Experience and attitude are the dominant factors for all of the cohorts, although this declines with age/education. By contrast concerns around literacy and numeracy or a poor education more generally, are cited by a very small minority of employers. Just 5% of employers find their 16 year old recruits to lack literacy or numeracy skills.
The strength of the ESS survey is that it distinguishes between those employers who have recruited a young person and those who have not. This means that we can be more certain that employers’ views reflect their own direct experience of recruiting young people as opposed to views based on negative media coverage for example. These findings do however raise the question that, if so few employers recruit young people, might the reason be that some candidates simply aren’t good enough? This question will be explored through the UK Commission’s 2012 Employer Perspectives Survey. Meanwhile recent evidence from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) provides some answers.
In their quarterly survey of members the CIPD asked those who had not recently recruited a young person why this was. Again, concerns around literacy and numeracy are cited only by small minorities of employers (12 per cent). Instead there seems to a demand problem, with 41 per cent noting that there is insufficient demand for roles suitable for young people. This may reflect the changing structure of the labour market. A further 28 per cent cited ‘other’ reasons with the majority of these noting that they weren’t recruiting anyone.
Again this reflects the overall level of demand in the economy. Experience is a key factor with just under a quarter of employers noting that they prefer to recruit candidates with more experience. This ESS and CIPD evidence combined suggests that while there are some issues around the employability skills of young people this is not the major factor holding young people back. And where employability is a factor, it is experience that seems to be the key issue.
You should also read : UK youth employment challenge – A Report « Job Market Monitor.