Business Breakfast – Recognising Talent – December 2017

Business Breakfast

We hosted a selection of youth organisations, providers and employers across the region at our Business Breakfast on 14th December. The event was supported by Essex Youth Service at the Ford Test Centre and focused on Recognising Talent, with a focus on Attraction and Recruitment.

Youth Employment UK CEO, Laura-Jane Rawlings led the session supported by Darren Connew from Essex Youth Service, Andy Hamilton from DST and Youth Employment UK Ambassador George Greaves.

Laura-Jane kick started the session with some background information on Youth Employment UK, the current youth employment landscape and the challenges ahead touching on current NEET statistics, hidden NEETS and Brexit. Addressing the audience Laura-Jane detailed why it’s important to change the way we think about and recruit young people.

“Not all young people come in shiny boxes, Employers need to be bigger and braver for them”

Laura-Jane appealed to the room that Recognising Talent is about employers broadening their recruitment practices to be inclusive of all young people irrespective of background, educational grading and circumstance. A plea to all employers to consider the requirements they place on their recruitment, application and interview processes and establish how many are really required and how many ensure that all young people receive equal opportunities.

Plan B

Essex Youth Service presented the full range of work they do to support young people within Essex. Darren Connew explained their approach in detail before introducing his colleague Sharon, Sharon delivers the Plan B scheme across Essex. The Plan B scheme is a 10 week program acting as a stepping stone for young people focusing on functional skills, work experience and a employability program. Sharon explained that the scheme helped boost self worth. We heard from a previous attendee Jake, approached his work experience with his initial keen approach, then after a few bumps applied himself fully leading to him securing a Level 3 Engineering Apprenticeship with the same Company.

Youth Friendly Employment in practice

Andy Hamilton, HR Director at DST, one of the largest recognised Apprenticeship employers within the UK joined us to talk through their youth friendly approach. DST offer permanent jobs from day one that are 100% work based and conclude with an industry recognised qualification. Last year they took on 330 Apprentices with 30% of their workforce being made up of 16-25 year olds. Andy Hamilton talked about the ways in which DST have adapted to attract young people to apply for positions within their company. Some of their adaptations ideas included the following;

  • Ensuring their career site was available on Mobile phones and to ensure they kept in contact via alerts.
  • To make full use of Social Media- Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn
  • To appeal to parents as well as they can be influential in the decisions that young people make.
  • To participate in Community engagement- DST are involved with the skill board at Essex County Council.
  • They are launching pre-application webinars for potential apprentices.
  • Looking to hold their first internal apprenticeships fair.
  • They have created an app which contains a job preview highlighting more on the role itself and the working environment.
  • They are also learning from their young people and using to trends found in training to identify learnings that can be made.

Youth Voice

George Greaves, Youth Employment UK Ambassador shared his success story. George explained that his schooling was not a smooth process and that he left with little qualifications. He attended a program and from there he started a traineeship before moving on to an apprenticeship. George excelled in his position and after achieving the highest target within the organisation he approached the Directors and asked to be removed from the Apprenticeship scheme and become a permanent member of staff. George had to present to his board of directors why he they should make that change to his employment status, George’s attitude and determination paid off and at 20 years of age he is now in a Management  position.

Next Steps:

  • Be rewarded for your Youth Friendly work with the Talent Match Mark
  • If you want more support in becoming a youth friendly organisation look at our community membership page here
  • We offer free Young Professional membership for 16 – 24 year olds to help them build there skills, find out more here

For further information: Contact us by phone on 01536 680916 or email us at

Aged 14-24?



Apply now for the Youth Friendly Employer Award:

  • A quality kitemark for employers
  • A powerful recruitment & development tool
  • Attract candidates for apprenticeships & early careers

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