Poor ‘Generation Y’ employment prospects mean HR could miss out on talent

‘Generation Y’ youngsters facing bleak employment prospects will be put off going to university and could end up in alternative craft-based careers such as plumbing – meaning HR could miss out on top talent, the CIPD has warned.

One in six 18 to 24-year-olds (16.1%) are now unemployed, up by one-quarter on last year, according to the Labour Market Statistics survey, released by the Office for National Statistics this week. This figure includes those at university actively seeking work. However, the unemployment rate for adults aged 25 to 49 is far less at 5.5%, up from 3.9% a year ago.

The jobless total for all age groups continued to rise, reaching 2.2 million over the past quarter, and hitting particularly hard in towns with manufacturing bases, such as the West Midlands.

The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) said 2009 would be a “bleak” year for graduates, but warned high youth unemployment rates could also lead to recruitment problems and skills shortages for employers. Gerwyn Davies, public policy adviser at the CIPD, told Personnel Today: “While a wider pool of talent might appear desirable, there is a wider negative implication from the high unemployment figures for employers. Some school leavers could be put off university due to the high jobless rate of graduates.”

Richard Wainer, head of education and skills at the CBI, called on employers to offer more internships or work experience to equip young people with skills ready to take advantage of the upturn and prevent them falling into the long-term unemployed category. “What we don’t want is to have a group of 18 to 24-year-olds who have no experience in any line of work, who have joined the ranks of the long-term unemployed. It is important they get the skills employers are looking for, by taking advantage of work experience or internships offered by employers.”

Meanwhile, the latest CIPD/KPMG Labour Market Outlook survey, also out this week, found less than half (47%) of the 500 employers surveyed had recruited 19 to 24-year-olds in the past three months. Hiring expectations for the summer – traditionally when the bulk of Generation Ys are recruited – were also shaky, with only 49% of HR respondents stating they intended to recruit graduates.

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