KFC has pledged to ensure a third of its new UK hires by 2030 are young people who face barriers to employment, after research found few employers offer opportunities for young people to build work skills.
A survey commissioned by the fast food chain and charity UK Youth found that 87% of employers recognised the importance of fostering young talent, but few were taking action to build their skills and capabilities.
Forty-two per cent of 16-25 year olds felt that practical work experience or on-the-job training was what they needed most from employers, yet 37% of organisations do not offer work experience opportunities. This is despite 55% of organisations ranking practical work experience as a primary consideration when hiring.
One in 10 employers do not offer any support or training to young employees.
Asked why they did not invest in work skills development for young people, 26% of employers said they lacked time and 23% did not have the money.
Maddie Dinwoodie, chief programme officer at UK Youth, said: “The pandemic and now the cost-of-living crisis are having a huge impact on the employment prospects of this generation of young people, despite the record numbers of job vacancies. Unlocking talent and supporting all young people into work has to be a priority, particularly people who are unemployed or underemployed.
“At UK Youth we want to unlock youth work for all young people. Youth work is essential for helping young people navigate these uncertain times. It can be life changing, and even life saving. Youth work gives young people the tools they need to support their own personal development, to manage their wellbeing, increase their self-confidence, create connections and build trust with others in their community.”
KFC has pledged to support 16-24 year olds into work through the Hatch employability programme, which has been developed by UK Youth. The programme supports disadvantaged young people to get their first job through one-to-one training and practical work experience, with participants ending the programme with a job interview at KFC.
KFC and UK Youth have called on the government to fund similar youth recruitment and employability schemes; reform post-16 education and apprenticeship policy to focus on the skills businesses need; develop a strategy to connect young people with local jobs; and to introduce tax incentives for businesses to invest in skills development for young people.
Meghan Farren, general manager at KFC UK & Ireland, said: “If we’re to tackle the labour shortage and provide better jobs and economic growth across the country for the next generation, then we urgently need to help young who have been excluded from education and training opportunities to find their feet and their voice in the workplace.
“Helping the next generation is an investment in the future of our businesses. That starts with employers, like us, investing in programmes like Hatch that support and empower young people, whatever their background. But we can’t make that change alone, we need government to give the next generation the tools and support they need if we’re to truly unlock the potential of today’s young people.”
The research involving 2,000 young people and 1,000 employers also found that:
- 81% of young people felt an employer had undervalued their skills because of their age
- 32% of employers believe young people have a good work ethic. Most young people saw this as their top workplace quality
- 39% of employers think “being a good team player” is a quality that young people possess. Most young people ranked this quality in their top three attributes.