How to reconnect young people and organisations

The Working Progress report, from Orange and think-tank Demos, highlights the damaging disconnect between graduates and employers and how this is affecting UK PLC. The report also provides solid and practical recommendations of ways in which the two can reconnect.

There is a damaging disconnect between young people and organisations. A disconnect between the training of today and the workplaces of tomorrow, and between the changing values of young people and the organisational cultures that they encounter. At the heart of this disconnect is a lack of understanding on both sides of the other needs.

This disconnect has emerged because of a series of rapid shifts in both the supply of jobs available from employers and the demand for jobs, or expectations of employment, on the part of graduates. On the supply-side, the jobs available in the economy are changing, as is the nature of many organisations themselves. On the demand-side, the expectations and values of young people are shifting, alongside the changing nature of the graduate career itself.

Working Progress argues that these changes mean new challenges for employees, which increase the importance of ‘intangible’ personal qualities, such as the ability to work in a team or to be creative. And changing values and social norms provide new questions for employers, as they struggle to find ways to attract, motivate and support a generation of young people with higher debt, different values, and more demanding jobs than ever before.

Based on new data from polling of employers and recent graduates, focus groups with young people, and in depth interviews with employers and training organisations, this report proposes a series of recommendations for schools, universities, government and organisations themselves aimed at reconnecting employers and young people in the name of productive and fulfilling work.

The report makes the following recommendations:

  • The Government should introduce a Skills Portfolio, to help capture some of the learning, skills and aptitudes that are often not reflected in traditional qualifications.
  • Schools should hold termly equivalents of ‘parents’ evenings’ for local businesses and community organisations.
  • The government should support the introduction of an Investors in Community accreditation for businesses, to encourage and recognise businesses’ contributions to the wider community.
  • Companies should recognise work-life balance as a skill as well as a legal set of obligations or company policy, and include this in training and appraisals.
  • Companies should learn from leading practice and provide ‘deep support’ for young people entering organisations, including legal and financial advice.
  • Companies and graduates should work together to create an open access resource that allows young people to build their own development programmes.
  • Companies should consider organising themselves into networks in order to offer more varied, developmental and interesting graduate schemes, which would see graduates gaining experience of more than department, organisation or sector.

Adam Wayland

Adam Wayland

Adam was Editor of from 2006 to 2008 and prior to that was staff writer on sister publication BusinessXL Magazine.

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