Meet & Engage

Stepping up to support young people entering work

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‘Our biggest failure though, is the lack of support for young people who have transitioned out of education in the years since Covid-19’. That’s a hard-hitting sentence to start a blog with, but when I read it in the Youth Voice Census 2023, it hit me like a tonne of bricks.

Working with amazing businesses means I know that the will to support young people exists in abundance, but if the delivery of support isn’t landing with the people who need it most, it begs the question of ‘how do we do it better?’.

For many of us, getting back to normal post Covid-19 wasn’t really that difficult; our old routines resumed and we fell back into the usual cycles of school runs, meetings, the odd social event, busy, busy, busy all the time – in fact, the main day-to-day legacy from Covid for the majority of us is an extra four-legged friend and more days working from home, and I’d say that’s a net win!

It’s easy to see how we’ve missed the magnitude of the impact Covid has had on younger people when it’s been so easy for many of us to pick up where we left off. For me, the responsibility is all the greater for it. We are the lucky ones, and we have a duty of care to support our young people to overcome their struggles. Let’s go back to the report to review some of the key data:

  • Only 1 in 3 young people think employers are supportive of hiring them and just under half are not confident that they will progress into a good job.
  • As young people get closer to working age their confidence decreases: those aged 19+ are less likely to feel confident that they have the right skills, relevant work experience, qualifications and network than their younger peers.
  • A lack of work experience has, for the past 6 years, featured as one of young people’s biggest barriers to work. It is currently the biggest barrier young people not in work face.
  • Young people are scoring their self-belief, confidence, and motivation as skills they feel least confident about. A third of young people are not confident that they have any self-belief or motivation at all.

I read the above and felt genuinely devastated—as I’m sure many of you do too. But I also feel galvanised, because I’m lucky enough to be part of an industry which really can help shift the dial for this impacted generation (and if you’re reading this, you most likely are as well!).

Young people don’t feel ready for work: only 23% of young people surveyed last year had ANY self-belief in their own skills (Youth Employment UK)

When viewed from the outside, it feels like we’re dealing with the easiest problem to solve: employers want well-prepared early careers talent, and they’re targeted on employing people from diverse backgrounds; young people, especially those from disadvantaged or diverse backgrounds, are crying out for opportunities and upskilling. Just put them together, right?

Unfortunately, when you’re dealing with young people who feel disillusioned, anxious, confused, and full of self-doubt, there is more of a hill to climb to convince them of their ability, suitability, and place within your organisation. So how do we bridge that gap?

Building rapport with this group may not be easy, but as employers, we must commit to trying as we do not want to be complicit in allowing this generation slip through the cracks.

“Most corporate buildings are built to intimidate, to radiate power; as a young person that is impossible to understand or overcome” (Lynne Peabody, EY Foundation)

At the Open University’s recent Elevate Equity conference, Lynne Peabody from the EY Foundation succinctly summed up the gap between young people and the corporate world, and how it encompasses everything, down to the buildings we spend our working lives in: corporate buildings are built to intimidate, to radiate power; as a young person that is impossible to understand or overcome.  We have to meet young people where they are, and communicate with them in a way they can confidently engage with – and with the information they want and need to receive.

At Meet & Engage, our commitment to being part of the solution means we have worked hard to understand what young people need from employers, and also how they feel most comfortable in receiving information.

We know travelling to face-to-face events can be prohibitive and intimidating, emails can feel overwhelming, and joining Teams calls can feel difficult and exposing. So, what’s the solution?

It’s naïve to pigeonhole any group of people, but using our candidate engagement and technology expertise, we have developed a work-readiness solution which will help bridge the gap between young people and employers.

We blend delivering the right content with the right delivery vehicle and have created a work-readiness nurture solution which feels more like social media, and is personalised and respectful of your candidates’ time, concerns, and requirements.

We are focused on helping employers reach the widest group of candidates to set them up for success—whether with them, or elsewhere—through a program of upskilling content which is deployed via automation.

The positive outcomes of us collectively committing to scooping up this generation and inspiring them to reach their potential are immense. These young people are no less talented, capable or brilliant, but they are coming of age in a challenging world and are suffering for it.

These are your future employees—your future leaders and changemakers—but right now they need help to understand how to unlock their potential and build the skills, confidence, and knowledge needed to thrive. I personally don’t believe this is a challenge we can’t rise to.


If you’d like to hear more about our work readiness solution, please contact Jodie on Jodie.grove@meetandengage.com

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