Quarter of employers have no plans to hire young people in 2021, research finds

Experts warn of blocked talent pipelines and a growing skills crisis if businesses fail to take on and develop new workers

A quarter of employees are not planning to hire any young people or trainees next year, a CIPD poll has found, as experts warn that failing to bring in and develop new employees could block talent pipelines and exacerbate the skills crisis.

The survey of more than 1,000 employers, conducted for the CIPD’s Covid-19 and the youth labour market report, found 25 per cent of businesses were not planning to hire anyone between the ages of 16 and 24-years-old in the next 12 months.

Just 46 per cent of employers said they did have plans to recruit from that age group, while 29 per cent said they did not know.

The poll also found that the various financial incentives offered by the government were failing to incentivise businesses to hire young people.

The government is offering employers a £1,000 bonus for every new traineeship, and up to £2,000 for every new apprentice. However, the poll found that just 8 per cent of employers that were not planning to offer traineeships before were now planning to do so, and just 6 per cent of organisations said they were planning to scale up their traineeship offerings as a result of the incentive.

Similarly, just 5 per cent of employers said they would now offer apprenticeships, and just 7 per cent said they would recruit more apprentices because of the incentive.

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Responding to the findings, Helen Astill, founder of Cherington HR, said employers that were willing to take advantage of the government incentive schemes and recruit apprentices and trainees would be best placed to make it through the next few months.

“There will be lots of people out of work who will be looking to apply for those roles when they appear, but the smart employers will look at taking on the less experienced candidates, perhaps as apprentices or new graduates, to develop and train them to be the future of their businesses,” she said.

“Taking raw talent and nurturing it is the best way of showing that your business is expecting to be around in the longer term. Showing employees that you are prepared to invest in their long-term development and develop the skills you will need for your business going forward will generate engagement and encourage loyalty.”

This was echoed by Lizzie Crowley, senior skills policy adviser at the CIPD. “Not only can apprenticeships and traineeships be a great way of creating a young talent pool but, at a time when there’s a jobs crisis, they can give young people a much-needed foot in the door,” she said, calling on the government to improve awareness of traineeships among businesses.

“Employers and the government need to meet each other halfway to improve employment prospects for young people who’ve been hit hardest by the pandemic,” she said.

Young people play an important part in future proofing businesses, added Jo Caine, managing director of Cathedral Appointments. “Not only does [the 16-24] age group hold the skills and knowledge needed in this virtual, technological age, but they often have a greater ability to learn and develop new skills – the perfect match for any evolving business,” she said.

“Many organisations simply don’t possess the skills or resources they need to fulfil changing business requirements. But by not investing in this younger talent, in the longer term they may find themselves knocked down a peg or two by the competition that does respond to the latest trends.”