What Do Employers Want From Young People?Posted: 15th of January 2015 by
Going through school or college can seem separate from the moment when you emerge into the ‘real world’ and start looking for work. Whereas before you were looked over by teachers, you suddenly find yourself being handed more responsibility for your own actions, working alongside people of different ages and backgrounds – people who you may not normally associate with. Of course, alongside this social change comes the need to have skills that allow you to get on with your job, and maybe some relevant work experience too. Having come straight out of school, college (or even university) this can be quite a change of direction. Having got used to an academic lifestyle, it can be a challenge to know what employers are looking for in a young workforce.
Of course, young people who have just left school or college will not have the same levels of experience as people who have been employed for several years. But this does not mean that employers are not looking at young people to join their workforce – just that the things they are looking for among school or college leavers will be different than for more experienced employees.
It is no surprise then to hear that many students are asking for better information from employers about what they are looking for. Speaking at the Westminser Employment Forum recently, Berni Dickinson, Director of the Mansfield Learning Partnership, told how they had commissioned research into what young people wanted to know. Dickinson revealed that, “Overwhelmingly they reported back that they wanted more interaction with employers.”
He added, “They wanted to hear stories from employers, they wanted to hear from employers what the local opportunities are, and also what kind of skills and attributes they wanted from young people.”
This sounds fair enough, so what reply did they get from the employers themselves? Were the questions and beliefs of young people in line with the needs of employers?
In fact, it seems that the employers who were questioned as part of the research wanted something quite simple. Dickinson revealed, “Overwhelmingly, employers said to me that what they wanted was good attitudes and behaviours.”
Interestingly, Dickinson then noted, “they weren’t actually that bothered about skills, and a number of employers always say they are not bothered about qualifications,” adding, “it was the attitudes and the behaviours of young people that they were more concerned about.”
That is not to say that skills and qualifications are not important, but it seems that many employers understand that these can be taught – whereas attitude is something that is harder to change.
Of course, the required attitude may differ depending on what jobs you are applying for, or even where you live. Even if you plan on going away to university or college, it is always worth looking into the employment opportunities in your hometown too. With 46% of young people returning to their hometown following graduation, it is clearly not always a guarantee that you will stay in the place where you went to university or college.
It seems that the main concern of employers is that young people are not ready to enter the workplace. However, this can be changed with some work experience, or an apprenticeship or traineeship, for example, as they all offer a real insight into the working world. Without the chance to learn, it is tough for young people to gain the employability skills that companies desire, but with a decent attitude and a willingness to learn you will already be presenting something that employers want to see.
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