COLUMN: Investing in young people’s futures

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Last summer there was a lot of discussion about exam results and the options that are open to young people in the world of work and study after completing their GCSEs or A-levels and BTECS.

There was also so much coverage about how our young people are lacking employability skills that are so essential when it comes to making the transition from learning to the world of work.

There are possibly more decisions and choices for young people to make today than ever before, and well informed ones too. As mum to twin boys currently studying in year 11 towards their GCSEs, the amount of choices and information available for their post-16 career pathway is almost overwhelming for me as a parent, let alone them as young adults.

So how can we as employers get involved with them at such an exciting time in a young person’s life?

Here at Fidler and Pepper we decided a couple of years ago that the best way to continue the success of our business was to invest in our employees. As recruiting experienced people who could also fit the way that we operate became harder, we made the decision to develop our already established apprenticeship programme and provide the opportunity for our youngsters showing a real talent to continue their learning, both in terms of qualifications and in work, to become fully qualified specialist fee earners in their chosen field.

We know when we recruit an apprentice aged 16 or 18 they may not be fully work ready, after all they have been closeted in an educational environment for ten or 12 years where the focus is virtually all on exam grades.

So we recognise that part of our role when an apprentice joins us is to help them develop their softer skills. This led us to ask ourselves if there was anything we could do about this and there was plenty.

So we got involved with every school in the area that was looking to build relationships with local businesses.

We run workshops on topics such as preparing your CV, what students can do to make themselves more prepared for the world of work and we attend mock interview days that help the youngsters understand more about the process of selling yourself in the competitive world of work.

We share how people can make themselves stand out and what they can be doing now to best utilise their skills and build up a portfolio that puts them ahead of the queue.

The results for us have been great. Not only do we gain an insight into the world of young people today who may be just around the corner from actually coming to work with us, but we are actively contributing to the preparations of the next generation coming into the world of work, in the very area where we are looking to recruit, and on a couple of occasions have actually successfully recruited future apprentices too.