Give Youth a Chance – don’t prejudge

On reading an article in yesterday’s Guardian Online with the catchy title “Rising employment, flourishing businesses: why Camden is different” I noted how the writer, Councillor Sarah Hayward, Camden’s cabinet member for community, regeneration and equalities, explains that the 25,000 businesses in the borough employ double the number of working age people that live there. Great news, but there are qualifications; she goes on to say that some areas of the borough have unemployment of nearly 20%, whilst youth unemployment for both school leavers and graduates is higher than the national and London based averages, which is currently a massive 18%.

Why should it be that in an area seemingly awash with jobs, about one in five young people still find themselves unemployed? And is Camden, a relatively affluent part of inner London, any different from the rest of the country – I think not!

The reason young people suffer is because our labour market discriminates against them, although according to our current legislation, it is illegal to so do. Young people have always been prejudged – when you think of a young person, what do you see? What images spring to mind; drug taking hoodies skulking around on street corners in gangs or an individual waiting and eager for society and employers to give them a chance? When I run workshops, I know which image prevails.

So today’s blog comes with a plea to managers, employers and the wider community too – be prepared to a take a risk. Whilst I acknowledge that older people may offer experience, knowledge and stability to their prospective employers, they may also be stuck in their ways, unimaginative and often likely come with bad working habits, workplace baggage and plenty of negative work experiences too.

It goes without saying that young people have less experience and knowledge and maybe a little fickle, still searching for the right path, but they carry with them a rawness and creativity that may have been ‘beaten’ out their elders; they are untrained, which means being ready and willing to learn and with brilliant imaginative ideas.

So whether you are in Camden, elsewhere in London, the UK or beyond, I appeal to you to give young people a chance – they deserve the best society and its many employers have to offer.

About equalityedge

I run Equality Edge and its unique and creative "Working with Difference" project. It supports employers and managers in gaining a competitive and cost saving advantage from meeting equality and diversity best practice obligations. Coaching and workshops are used to deliver organisational, team and leadership development, assisting in improving communication and the understanding of the impact difference has on workplace behaviour.
This entry was posted in age equality, beyond diversity, discrimination, Equality & Diversity, Equality Act, inequality, management, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to Give Youth a Chance – don’t prejudge

  1. Alan Og says:

    I agree that this is a problem, but I also think there are some deep rooted issues that help to perpetuate this. You are right, young people do have this reputation, and in many cases they deserve it because of the image that a high majority of them portray most of the time. But, I also believe that many are architects of their own downfall. I talk to people who recruit and the general trend is that they don’t seem to make the effort that is required to gain or hold down a responsible job. CVs and application forms are poorly written and punctuated, people turn up at interviews dressed inappropriately and this serves to create an impression that if they can’t do these things with dilligence, how can they be expected to take on a responsible job.

    The big problem is that they all tend to get tarred with the same brush hence why the rate is so high. If you look for why the problem exists in the first place then I believe it is you and I who are to blame on the basis that we have allowed our children to have what they want, when they want in this instant gratification society that we live in today. Not you personally I might add. Qualities such as respect, patience, resillience, humility, perseverence don’t appear to be part of a “cool dude’s” make up, but these are the very qualities even in the young that I believe employers are seeking, indeed in my corporate role, these were the traits I looked for when recruiting graduate trainees. In my experience, there were relatively few who passed these tests.

    So what is the answer – I really don’t know in the short term because the dye to some extent has been cast. Further down the line I would like to see our education system (school and home) achieve a much more effective balance between academic achievement and the development of emotional intelligence with the aim of developing much more self aware individuals with the behavioural skills that will benefit industry and themselves.

    • equalityedge says:

      I model good practice for my children and they respond accordingly, by behaving in a way deserved of respect. Certainly, they may sometime ‘act out’, but is that the place of the teenager in all societies.

      I agree with your comment that there is no easy fix. I believe in is incumbent on employers to be open to possibilities of employing young people, sometime in preference to the more mature applicant. It may take some creative approaches to get them to understanding work/company ethos – but the outcomes will be worthwhile. I trust the young!

  2. I will circulate you blog as i am getting projects set up globally for woman and young people

  3. Iain Duncan-Smith talks about making sure that young people are “ready for the labour market” but what is missing are training & development opportunities young people would have received if they had a job. Without these, lack of employability remains a serious risk, as does lagging behind their peers if/when they find a job. My social enterprise Common Purpose is running the Young Million campaign to offer leadership development to young unemployed people. If others offer do something similar, we can go some way towards reducing the skills gap.

    • equalityedge says:

      I agree completely that training opportunities must be offered, in both in vocational FE and workplace settings. With the right training and investment young people are even less of a risk than they might be otherwise.

      More for the employer to consider.

  4. The employment prospects for young people in the UK are not looking good and are likely to get worse as the retirement age increases leaving more older people in the workforce for longer and fewer vacancies for younger people.

    It seems we are running out of jobs, or at least paid jobs, yet work remains to be done.

    There are still old people who need help at home or simply a bit of company, latch key primary school children can still be seen on the streets mid afternoon waiting for parents to get home or are home alone with no one to look after them.

    We are now turning out more unemployed and in some cases unemployable graduates and cut backs in the public sector are about to place more people onto the jobs market before the next group of graduates join the labour market.

    What is to be done about youth unemployment?

    Perhaps we need to create more unpaid work opportunities for young people to do useful things that remain undone. Students at school, college and university are not paid to be there – why can we not have more unpaid young interns age 16 to 20 not in further education working for some of our 4.9 million one man and two person businesses?

    What is needed is political leadership and the suspension of some of the legislation concerning employment that would remove the fear and red tape from employers and makes it easier to take on young interns without pay.

  5. libertarian says:

    I specialise in the field of employment and job creation, I’m also a Director and Trustee of a Charity for unemployed young people as well as a governor of a college and a university. I regularly mentor ex offender and rehabilitating alcohol and drug abusers back into work.

    1) Unemployment bears NO relationships to number of jobs available. There are 100,000s of jobs available all over the UK, the job market is growing.

    2) Politicians and the media have push far too many young people into University, its is a MYTH that a degree gets you a better paid job.

    3) The current and previous governments apprenticeship scheme is a health and safety and bureaucratic minefield that puts off SME employers and 85% + of ALL jobs are with SME’s

    4) Its about ATTITUDE, not skills and qualifications, its about being able to apply for a job, present oneself at interview and do some basic research into the organisation/job one is applying for.

    5) Those youngsters with a “work ethic” find no problem with getting into employment

    6) Still after 20 years and £billions of taxpayers money spent we have a massive shortage of engineers and technicians , STEM skills are in ultra short supply and are being imported in large numbers from overseas.

    This year I’ve helped 20+ year 12 school pupils get work experience and I have got paid intern ships for 30 University graduates ( all of whom were offered full time employment)

    This is NOT up to employers to change how they hire ( the costs are already prohibitive, the red tape enormous and the benefits minuscule) it is up to jobseekers to make themselves employable

    As for the poster with the Common Purpose Leadership Programme, you are I’m afraid the problem, not the solution. Too many young people enter the job market believing they can start at the top, manage a business or impose their “leadership” skills. This is NOT required. What is needed is young people willing to learn, grow and be flexible, to start at the bottom and learn via experience. Have you never wondered by 99% of job adverts ask for x years experience ?

    • equalityedge says:

      Thanks for your comment.

      Are you suggesting that young people are not employable? I suggest they are – and certainly willing and wanting to learn. I too worked with young people and for the most part found them willing and eager to learn and develop both the work skills necessary and work ethic.

      Where I disagree with your comment is the thought that employers do not need to change hiring habits. Too often, the younger candidate is overlooked or not even shortlisted because of their lack of experience. I think the potential their youthfulness offers, makes them a fantastic prospect as a future employee, with a greater scope for development.

      Many young people I have worked with would not be risk – just a massive bonus.

  6. i’m pretty much sure you are not right in this issue, it’s already known fact that learning is beond everything.

    קורס נדל”ן קורס DBA

  7. …..Here is a collection of suggestions for organizers about how to attract more young people to a traditional music dance or song event or series. …For the purposes of this discussion young people generally means people under the age of 30. In the long term CDSS envisions a traditional music dance song community where people of all ages have the opportunity and motivation to participate and the chance to interact with people from other generations as they do so.

  8. Reality Checker says:

    Reality Check!
    There is no shortage of opportunities for young people to start working.
    Plenty of companies are looking for young and eager people to work their way up – skilled or not, there is need for all kinds.
    However, the reality is that the government and other groups are doing their very best to prevent these kids to get a job (they mean well, but they accomplish more damage than good).
    By making it expensive to have employees and hard to fire employees if they don’t work out, the only option is to hire interns.
    Unfortunately, most young people, their parents and the government appear to be violently opposed to this.
    Therefore, the proposition most people hold is – it is the responsibility of the business men, not the young people, to make them employable – nonsense!

    I would be happy to take three interns today and convert them to paid employees after 6 months if they are good, but if I propose that, I only get egg on my face for being nice, so I am better off just to hire experienced employees.

    My opinion only!

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