During this difficult time it might be hard to imagine a world where employers can think about future recruitment needs and workforce development. As an SME we have really laboured on the issue of our own recruitment plans for 2020 so I understand first hand the impact of this uncertain period on our organisations.
The impact Covid-19 it will have on youth employment in the days, months and years to come weighs heavy on me as the founder of Youth Employment UK. It has taken years to reduce the post recession youth unemployment levels from 1 million young people Not in Education, Employment or Training (NEET) and we know well the scarring effects unemployment has on young people.
We were entering a better world for young people with the careers agenda moving at pace, new apprenticeships coming online, the development of education and training offers and more employers were looking to become youth-friendly and ensure that they were best in class when it came to engaging, recruiting and supporting young people.
How rapidly things change.
We are now in the unprecedented situation of organisations cancelling early careers activities such as work experience, school visits and the milk-round style careers fairs. Along with the cancellation or at best postponement of summer programmes, internships and even job starts.
Young people are reaching out to us, unsure what they can do when their placements are cancelled and looking for help and advice. Fearful what the impact will be on their future plans.
This is why we have to quickly find ways to replace early careers engagement activities that provide support and pathways to young people. We know how important interactions with employers are and the benefits work experience has on young people but also on future recruitment pipelines. So it is essential that we take proactive steps to maintain contact with young people, young people who will likely get lost, disengage and be difficult to reach when recruitment schemes re-open.
Adding to this issue is the challenge that there are thousands of young people who are due to transition this summer and are now at risk of losing contact with their support systems. This is one of the reasons we are involved in a specialist Covid-19 Youth Employment Group as we work collectively with the employment sector to try and stem the impacts on youth employment.
So, what can an employer do to maintain contact with young people, even if recruitment plans are on hold?
If you are halting recruitment
- Be honest – it is OK to put up some messaging to say that your recruitment plans are on hold but you would like to keep in contact
- Arrange webinars so that you can offer Q&As or keeping in touch sessions for those mid way through a recruitment process
Changing the programme
- Rethink your work experience and internship programme, instead of cancelling can you re-imagine it? Setting remote on-boarding, tasks and activities. A shorter, online programme will still help.
- Consider asking staff to join a mentoring programme that connects young people to those in work (The Princes Trust are a great of example)
- Can you offer online open days to give young people an experience of your organisation or online Q&A’s with your apprentices talking about their experience so far
Provide useful information about your world of work
- Consider how you might be able to produce some video or blog content to provide useful information to young people about your organisation and your recruitment process, what qualities you are looking for and how young people can use this time to get work-ready for you
- Signpost to useful resources or activities – we have a dedicated Covid-19 resource for young people
- Consider going ahead with your recruitment plans and trust that you and your recruits can thrive in an online environment for the short-term. This is what we have chosen to do, we are working hard on our induction programme so that our two new apprentices can start albeit remotely with us next week.
You do have to consider Safeguarding and GDPR when engaging with young people even when it is online. This is why it can be easier to engage with an organisation like Youth Employment UK. Our Careers and Skills resources attract more than 100,000 views every month. We can work with you to build up a digital profile and manage your messaging through our newsletters and social media.
If you do need any support at this time when it comes to your youth employment strategy recruitment or engagement plans please get in touch with the team.