Why did employers get involved?

Working with young people is not only a positive thing to do for the benefit of wider society and the economy; based on CIPDs research report in 2012 it also has clear business benefits, the most common of which fall into the following categories:

Growing future talent and workforce planning 

Younger workers might not have all the experience employers think they need, but they are undoubtedly the workforce of tomorrow. An investment in young people, therefore, helps employers:

  • to build a strong pipeline of future talent and ensure succession planning
  • develop knowledge transfer from an ageing workforce and keep skills in-house
  • grow a committed, loyal workforce that will help to achieve their future business goals
  • shape their workforce in response to organisational needs and develop an organisational culture
  • address future skills gaps.

Young people's unique skills, attitudes and motivation

Young people bring unique skills, attitudes and motivation to organisations. In some ways, the same lack of work experience which disadvantages them in the labour market can be a direct benefit to employers if harnessed correctly. Research shows that employers that think there is a business case for employing young people recognise that young people have something different and valuable to bring to the workplace: a willingness to learn (47%), fresh ideas and new approaches (43%) and motivation, energy and optimism (42%) – these were the top three things named in Learning to Work survey (CIPD 2012c).

Workforce diversity

The key benefits of a diverse workforce are numerous and include: customer care and marketplace competitiveness; corporate image, brand, ethics and values; recruitment and retention of talent; designing and delivering products and services; increasing creativity and innovation; being an employer of choice and corporate responsibility (CIPD 2008).

Employing young people also helps employers to connect with their customer base: ‘We need to be localised and engage with communities. A bin man visits people’s houses, so they need to reflect the profile of the community and our customer base, which is the general public,’ explains Emma Wordsworth, Veolia.

Positive impact on Employer brand and reputation

Employers also bring young people into their organisations to engage with their community, which strengthens their employer brand. Many organisations feel that employing younger workers boosts their reputation as an employer of choice. A strong employer brand also has a positive impact on competitiveness, as it can differentiate organisations from their competitors.

Cost effectiveness – recruitment / training

Part of the business case for employing young people is also that it is more cost-effective to grow your own workforce, rather than trying to buy in skills and talent later. It is difficult to put a number on the return of this investment, although in some cases, for instance with apprenticeships, there are studies that do show the financial impact:

  • A study carried out by the University of Warwick Institute for Employment Research (IER) demonstrated the returns of apprenticeships to the employer. Based on detailed employer case studies in seven sectors, the study demonstrated that employers are able to recoup their costs within one or two years after the training has been completed.
  • Barratt Development PLC estimates that through the investment in apprenticeships, the company was able to promote from within, saving around £4,000 per person in recruitment and selection costs for site management positions.

‘For the NHS, tackling youth unemployment is also a public health agenda. Youth unemployment is bad for the health of young people, who carry scars of this experience.’ 

Elizabeth Eddy, Head of Skills in Employment at NHS Employers