Outdated recruitment practices are holding young people in Northern Ireland back, warns Prince’s Trust
The YouGov poll of young people and employers suggests that more than half of young people aged 16-30 in Northern Ireland who have applied to jobs feel they have missed out on roles because they were not given a fair chance to show their skills properly (51 per cent). With three quarters saying employers rarely give them helpful feedback when they’ve been unsuccessful in applying for a role (75 per cent).
According to the report, Futures at Stake 2020, a third of employers in the UK believe that traditional or outdated recruitment practices are perpetuating skills shortages in their organisation (36 per cent), while almost half agree that traditional recruitment practices are no longer working and that they need to be more innovative (48 per cent).
Most employers in the UK believe recruiting young people under the age of 25 is vital to avert a skills crisis in their sector (73 per cent) and that it is more effective to focus on personal values rather than purely academic achievements when it comes to recruiting for entry-level jobs (67 per cent).
The report also reveals six in ten young people in Northern Ireland believe their education did not prepare them for the reality of the workplace (62 per cent). Similarly, almost two-thirds of employers in the UK believe that school-leavers lack the skills they need for work (64 per cent), yet 44 per cent admit their organisation has no involvement with local schools to help prepare pupils for the workplace.
After finishing school Rhys McDonald, 19 from Coalisland, was in and out of work until March 2019 when he found himself unemployed for eight months. During that time, he regularly applied for jobs but didn’t hear back from any of them.
Rhys said: “I sent off loads of applications and just never heard back. I stopped looking after myself, I felt like I didn’t have any purpose or anything to get out of bed for so sometimes I just didn’t.”
While he was unemployed Rhys attended his local JobCentre who put him in touch with The Prince’s Trust. He went on to sign up for their Get into Retail programme with Tesco. The four-week programme gives young people to opportunity to gain work experience and develop employability skills with many going on to be offered a job.
“I didn’t know if retail would be for me, but I thought I might as well give it a go because I wasn’t doing anything else. I really enjoyed the four weeks; everyone was so nice and helpful, and I developed different skills. At the end of the four weeks I was offered a permanent contract in the Dungannon Tesco store and I’m really enjoying it.
“I was buzzing to be offered the job. It gives me something to get up for and I am more independent now that I’m earning money. I think that being assessed on the job was a great way for me to show that I am capable, much better than just sending in a CV.”
Mark Dougan, NI Director of The Prince’s Trust said: “Young people are key to solving current skills shortages and avoiding a future skills crisis. However, some employers use recruitment processes that make it hard for them to fill vacancies, as well as making it hard for young people to get their first job. It is vital that employers start thinking about recruitment differently.
“The Prince’s Trust works with employers to give all young people the chance to succeed. We provide employers with innovative methods of recruitment, such as our short pre-employment courses for young people, and we are relentless in our efforts to ensure all young people have the tools they need to start their career.”
Half of all employers across the UK say they would be interested in recruiting applicants by working with an external training provider to provide work experience and training (49 per cent).
In Northern Ireland, The Prince’s Trust supports young people into work in a wide range of industries including retail, security and hospitality with an average of 78% securing a job or going into further training.
Patrick Verwer, Chief Executive of Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) said: “This research highlights how employers need to adapt their practices to attract young people to avoid a skills crisis in their organisations.
“At GTR, we recognise the value that young people can bring to the workforce and how, with the right support and opportunities, they can get on the career ladder and be active players in the economy.
“We’re proud to have helped hundreds of young people through our partnership with The Prince’s Trust to boost their confidence and be inspired to build a future for themselves.”
This year, The Prince’s Trust will support thousands of young people to develop the confidence and skills they need to get into work, education or training in communities across Northern Ireland.
To find out more about how The Trust works with young people, schools and employers in your local community, or if you would like to support by donating funds or volunteering your time, search for ‘The Prince’s Trust’ online.