HR · 25 November 2016

Why young people hold the key to small business growth

Young people
The government has promised three million apprenticeship “starts” by 2020

New figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) have revealed that the number of young people not in education, employment or training (NEETS) increased by 14,000 between April and June ­this year – reaching 857,000.

In response to the research, The Open University has suggested that the UK could reap an economic bonus worth £45bn by reducing unemployment among 20 to 24 year olds to ten per cent.

Youth employment initiatives such as apprenticeships have the potential to tackle unemployment levels among young people as well as boosting growth for small businesses, and the government has promised three million apprenticeship “starts” by 2020.

Research has indicated that small business owners in Britain are receptive to apprenticeships and recognise their value to company growth.

A study conducted by Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) identified that 79 per cent of its member firms would hire an apprentice, while data compiled by the Skills Funding Agency found that 80 per cent of managers valued hiring an apprentice more than any other means of growing their company.

Commenting on the economic value of youth employment, Steve Hill, external engagement director at The Open University, argued that job openings for young people needed to be met by applicants who were effectively prepared for the world of work.

“We need to adapt our skills pipeline to provide businesses with employees who have the relevant know-how and experience of the workplace – and to provide young individuals with the tools to boost their employability,” he said in a statement.

Hill also pointed to the success of the German model and urged the UK to take notes on the country’s approach to training young people – focusing on vocational training from school.

He added that there was a “real potential for a shift in the UK and that will be a very good thing for businesses and Britain’s young people”.

In 2015, the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) warned that the private sector and the education system were failing to engage with one another to provide young people with an effective transition to working life.

The BCC’s director general, John Longworth, said that businesses and schools were “worlds apart” in preparing the next generation of workers.

Five ways to create future-proof apprenticeships

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ABOUT THE EXPERT

Simon Caldwell is a reporter for Business Advice. He has a BA in politics and communications from the University of Liverpool, and previously worked as a content editor in the ecommerce industry.

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