Helping young people transition into work
Authors: Marcus Lee
Marcus Lee, Head of HR at Santander
15 August 2013
At Santander we know that, like many other large employers, we have a vital contribution to make in helping to promote youth employment, given that almost one million young people are unemployed today.
We also appreciate anecdotal evidence which suggests young people are finding the transition from education into the workplace more challenging than ever before. We welcome the recent recommendation by The Work Foundation for schools to have a local employer governor, responsible for providing teachers with up-to-date local labour market data and opportunities. This will undoubtedly help to harness the effort and commitment which is required to enhance the experience of those at school, in gaining a greater understanding of potential career pathways for their future.
Santander’s aim to recruit the best people to work for us has been complemented by our ability to recruit some fantastic young people into the bank. This enables organisations like ours to fully realise the benefits that hiring young people can bring. Young people that can help us understand the needs of our customers and can help us in delivering a great customer experience.
Often, standard recruitment methods can form a barrier for young people, so Santander has undertaken some key re-engineering of our assessment methodologies. This has enabled candidates with a shortage of prior work experience to demonstrate great potential at our assessment centres. This has resulted in a positive effect with an increase in the number of young people progressing through our assessment centres and taking up permanent opportunities in customer-based roles.
Santander also recognises that a lack of work experience continues to be one of the major barriers for young people being offered employment. We’re increasing the number of paid work experience opportunities for young people to help them gain experience in a corporate environment; with an increase in these opportunities being awarded to organisations like Career Academies and Social Mobility Foundation. Through our partnership with Common Purpose, we’re specifically targeting disabled students to help them gain valuable work experience. We have has also recently embarked on offering virtual mentors from our workforce, to help young people looking for tips and advice for employment through our partnership with Working For Youth.
With the increased debt for graduates on leaving university now topping some £43,000 over a three year period, Santander is offering a growing number of places within our school leaver programme, Flying Start, which targets A’ Level students and provides full sponsorship to gain degree level qualifications within a three to four year period. This increase in opportunities for school leavers mirrors an increase in apprenticeship roles at Santander; we provide a permanent contract from ‘day one’ to enable people to focus on starting their career, alongside the opportunity to achieve a nationally recognised qualification (equivalent to five GCSEs).
There remains tremendous scope for us all to do more to help young people across the UK. However, in order to make further progress, we need schools, colleges, employers and government to work together to ensure that young people not only have the skills, but also the confidence to transition into the workplace.
The Work Foundation, in partnership with Impetus-PEF, have made the issue of youth unemployment, the focus of their 2013 Party Conference fringe events: 'Lost in transition? Why are young people failing to make the transition from school to work?
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