'Young people not ready for world of work' our research shows

49% of employers are reporting a ‘soft-skills’ gap amongst young people when they start in their first job
16 February 2017

We surveyed senior managers at more than 200 UK workplaces to identify if the young people they were seing enter the work place satisfied the needs of their businesses. The results revealed a sizeable gap in the softer skills required to make an ideal employee with 49% of those questioned saying that, on average, the young people they recruited still needed to learn the basic life skills needed to be an effective employee.

How does the ‘soft-skills’ gap manifest?

The five biggest bug-bears for employers of young people are:

  1. A failure to understand appropriate mobile phone / IT usage in the workplace - 26% of employers reported this as being typically below the required standard.
  2. Effective timekeeping and punctuality - 23%.
  3. A commitment to their job (e.g. few unauthorised absences) – 22%.
  4. An ability to manage their personal finances – 20%.
  5. The ability to listen effectively – 15%.
49% of those questioned said that, on average, the young people they recruited still needed to learn the basic life skills needed to be an effective employee

The benefits of recruiting young people

However, it’s not all bad news. Employers also recognised that typically young people are eager to learn and develop their skills (55% of employers) and more than a third said that they brought increased passion and enthusiasm into the workplace (36%).

The study also found that young people are a valuable means to increase IT skills amongst a workforce, with 44% of employers reporting that young people’s talents in this area were well above the required standard.

What other experiences do employers value?

Our panel of employers also revealed what non-educational experiences are most valued in the workplace.

The five best indicators of employability (other than academic qualifications): 

  1. Learning new skills (e.g. a language) – 57% of employers value this experience
  2. Being well read – 47%
  3. Having a strong interest or hobby – 43%
  4. Undertaking voluntary work for a charity or in the community – 34%
  5.  Being part of a club or group (e.g. dance or acting) – 34%
The study also found that young people are a valuable means to increase IT skills amongst a workforce, with 44% of employers reporting that young people’s talents in this area were well above the required standard

Helping close the soft skills gap

At Central YMCA we are dedicated to helping young people make themselves workplace-ready, with specific courses teaching the softer skills that traditional education may fail to address. We have a range of apprenticeships and study programmes available through YMCA Training.

We’re also, currently, putting our energy into research and awareness around this area to help find like-minded people to come together to meet employers’ needs in this new age. We’re engaging with ministers, employers and schools to understand how best we can make this new learning a reality. If you'd like to discuss this or any other partnership you can reach us at partners@ymca.co.uk

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