Employers upbeat about recruiting young people but find they have attitude problems

Many employers are not afraid of taking on young recruits, according to a survey by Personnel Today’s sister publication Employment Review.

The survey of 132 employers found that a recruiter typically uses seven different methods to attract younger candidates. However, the top three most effective methods were reported to be advertising vacancies on the internet (29%), offering work experience to school children and/or college students (16%), and advertising in local newspapers (14%).

The research also showed that the assessment and selection of young people involved the consideration of an average of 14 factors. But primarily, employers considered young people’s attitude to work, their potential, their performance at interview, and their motivation to be the best ways of assessing their suitability for employment (see chart, right).

Although employers were fairly satisfied with young workers’ skills and attitudes, they still had concerns. Nine in 10 (89%) believe younger recruits have a poorer understanding of the world of work than their older counterparts – although with less experience, that is only to be expected. But six in 10 employers (62%) also believed that younger recruits have poorer inter-personal skills in areas such as manners, respect and tolerance.

Just over half (52%) of the employers that expressed concern about younger recruits’ attitudes and skills tried to remedy the issues, with 48% ramping up their super­vision. About one in five took steps to manage poor timekeeping and attendance, and 32% provided further training.

For the purposes of this report, a young person was defined as someone aged 21 or under, and who did not have a degree.

Although many jobs made available for young people are unskilled or semi-skilled, many employers were still keen to train and develop these recruits for long-term careers in their companies. The findings also showed that the use of apprenticeship schemes was widespread, with more than half (54%) of the respondents claiming to be involved in one, and using several methods to fill these placements.

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