Young unemployed must be helped by employers to become job-ready, skills chief warns

Employers must ramp up efforts to improve the job-ready skills and employment prospects of young people as hundreds of thousands still struggle to find work, a skills chief has warned.

Speaking at London’s Welfare to Work Convention yesterday, Jack Morris, vice chairman of the 14-19 Regional Planning Group in London, part of employers’ body London Councils, said organisations had to take a more active role in helping young people to acquire the skills needed in the workplace to prevent creating a “disaffected generation”.

Official unemployment figures, released yesterday, revealed there were still 715,000 18-to-24-year-olds out of work in the three months to January – but this was down 34,000 on the three months to October 2009.

Morris told Personnel Today the recession had brought the need for ’employability skills’ to the foreground, and it was essential that businesses did more to offer opportunities, including work experience and internships, to enable young people to ‘road-test’ their skills in the workplace and build their CVs.

He said: “It’s important for employers to take an active role in enabling the workforce of tomorrow to be able to get the best opportunities to understand what the needs are in the workplace.”

He added that while some employers were already doing this, “they are not reaching those further removed from the opportunities”.

His call follows those of the HR chiefs at McDonald’s and Morrisons last month, who urged employers to do more to help the long-term unemployed.

Morris also challenged employers to work more closely with skills providers, further education colleges and local authority organisations delivering training to outline the skills needed from young recruits.

John Philpott, chief economist at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, added that work experience opportunities should be targeted in particular at young people considering returning to education because they cannot find work, so they are kept close to the jobs market – the number of students not in the labour market increased by 98,000 to 2.31 million in the three months to January.

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