There is no denying that the last few years have been difficult for many. With the cost of living crisis impacting young people’s future career decisions, it is becoming increasingly harder to justify the rising costs of university. There is also the lasting impact of the pandemic to consider, with its long-term social effects still yet to be fully understood.
As a result of these tricky circumstances, many young people are feeling increasingly disconnected from the world of work. The companies that decide to bridge this gap now, will see far-reaching results in the years to come. After all, the next generation is our future and their experiences now will ultimately shape for UK workforce.
The companies that recognise this and adapt their early career strategies accordingly will see hugely beneficial outcomes for all involved. From identifying and shaping talent to saving on recruitment costs, the benefits for businesses are diverse. For young people, learning new skills, developing their first professional networks and getting hands-on experience are just some of the beneficial outcomes.
Why should a business care about the next generation?
We truly believe that it is in all businesses' best interests to consider the power that lies in supporting the next generation of employees. Never more so than now, as the UK workforce leans towards championing ethical businesses that place an emphasis on their staff.
This is largely due to the pandemic, as in the shadow of COVID-19, businesses have been increasingly held accountable for their impact on the world around them. Gone are the days of profit over people and the planet.
The world now demands transparency and fairness, and Gen Z is one of the biggest advocates for transformative styles of thinking. The future leaders of tomorrow are being shaped today, and your support of young people can help catapult your business into the forefront of innovation.
Not only this, but the businesses that recognise their people as their biggest asset tend to experience powerful cultural shifts and diversification at a much faster rate than businesses that are stuck in old ways of thinking and doing. What’s more, finding and keeping the best talent often relies on selling company culture to the prospective employee, so businesses that can demonstrate strong values and an emphasis on diversity, inclusion and equity are more likely to attract and retain high caliber workers. When the job market is competitive, a company’s genuine desire to make a difference in the world can work as a defining advantage.
There are many ways a business can shape a young person’s life at such a pivotal moment in their careers; one of the main ways is by giving them firsthand experience of the workplace itself. Through initiatives like the Pathfinder Programme, businesses can prioritise young people’s experiences of the workplace in a cost-effective and hands-on manner.
Our findings show that students can gain a plethora of skills and insights in the wake of such programmes:
How businesses can shape a young person’s life
Highlight alternative routes into industry
In today’s climate, alternative routes into industry can provide a lifeline to young people from low socioeconomic groups, where there is already financial pressure at home. Saving them from the burden of rising university costs, whilst earning an income and learning on the job to positively shape their future prospects.
The beneficial impact reaches businesses too, as hiring young people straight from school or college can be a fantastic opportunity to identify and shape new talent, whilst saving on recruitment costs.
Help them develop new workplace skills
With so many businesses shutting out lots of talented individuals due to entry-level requirements for existing experience, many young people feel demoralised from the get-go. Work placements can be that crucial stop-gap between school and employment that many see as the first rung on their career ladder.
Allowing them to confidently say they have firsthand experience of the workplace is one of the initial steps towards a brighter future for many young people. This first crucial bit of experience helps to inspire young people to pursue their careers in a way they previously would never have thought possible. Additionally, many skills require insight and knowledge that can only be picked up from the workplace itself.
Create feelings of ease surrounding the workplace
Changing young people’s perspectives of the workplace is one of the biggest ways a business can positively influence a young person. With many feeling like the typical workplace is made up of individuals from a different walk of life, we’ve experienced firsthand how this can negatively impact students. Findings from our existing programmes showed that beforehand, the majority of our student alumni felt that these workplaces simply weren’t for them. The work placement was able to shift this perspective. Demonstrating the value of work placements, these opportunities can be a fantastic way for businesses to show students that people from all backgrounds help elevate a business and are much needed and valued.
The close relationship with their mentor ahead of the placement can also ease the student in gently. Having a confidante for the duration of the experience not only sets the students up to make the most of the process but also gives them a crucial new network, which leads to the next point…
Open doorways for their first networks
The phrase “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know” is an ethos that leaves young people behind and that we are keen to dismantle. Mentors can help to make a big impact on mentees by generously sharing their contacts and facilitating introductions.
Allowing young people to leverage a mentor’s network can help them create their own first professional networks, which can go a long way to influencing their bright futures. In families where parents are in service-led industries as opposed to office-led roles, there can be a big disconnect between who these respective parents can introduce their children to. Thus, giving young people who feel they do not have these key connections access to businesses and people in circles they may never have reached before can be truly life-changing.
Highlight other areas of the business
Students often turn up to work experience without any idea of their desired industry or job type, so work experience and mentoring can help to spark fresh inspiration. Through talks and workshops with a range of departments, a young person can get a taste of other job functions they’d previously never heard of. With a real grasp of the depth of job roles available to them, students can go forth into the world of work feeling confident that they have made the right choice in their careers.
Some of our alumni entered their programmes with a vague idea of wanting to work in business and left with exciting new career plans in place. From discovering commercial law, to understanding the world of procurement, these young people’s eyes were truly opened to new experiences and career paths thanks to their work placements.
LondonEnergy, one of our business partners commented: "At LondonEnergy, we support young people and create an environment that fosters growth and development important to us. We invited a group of young people to our EcoPark site earlier this year for a week-long programme that included hands-on working experience and valuable mentoring sessions with members of our energy operations, people, and waste operations teams.
The company is proud to Invest in the future of our young people and contribute to the next generation of talent, and we are excited to welcome more candidates next year."
Our mission is to help people become the best version of themselves through mentoring & work placements. Through our experience running the Wiseup platform, we’ve learnt what truly effective mentoring looks like, and thus our mission evolved to focus on changing the lives of young people at the most crucial step in their careers.