Amongst the turmoil of recent months, young people have been one of the major losers on the workforce front. Under 25s, in particular, have felt the brunt of furloughs and lay-offs. In Europe during May 2020, unemployment among the under 25s rose three times as fast as the overall average. The consequences of this will be felt long after the immediate crisis passes. Not just by the individuals themselves, but by their former, current and future employers.
Even short periods of unemployment at the start of a career can affect a young person’s long-term career prospects. One month of unemployment when you are 18 to 20 causes a lifetime income loss of 2%. Any time taken off work will impact the skills and experience that a young person can develop — skills that are crucial to keeping up in the job market. This translates to more limited job prospects, a higher likelihood of future unemployment and reduced pay.
For employers, this could increase the already widening skills gap. Losing young people early in their careers also stops an employer from benefiting from that individual’s career potential and their ability to build and use new skills to meet the business’ changing needs.
Related: 5 Things Leaders Can Do for Graduates in the Covid Economy
Everyone must be involved
It’s in everyone’s interest to boost a young person’s employment and potential to develop new skills. Governments are recognizing this and placing significant emphasis on supporting young people through the many challenges of 2020. The EU, for example, is urging governments to use EU funds to create more youth jobs and training. The UK Government has announced a £2 billion scheme to kickstart young people’s careers. According to their research, young workers make up almost a quarter (24%) of the UK’s workforce.
However, it’s up to businesses to continue carrying out these efforts once the immediate urgency and investment stop. The UK’s kickstart scheme is a 6-month program, and it will fall short of what businesses and young workers really need. What’s required is a long-term, continuous commitment to growing youth careers — and this begins with consistent upskilling.
Widening skills needs
The half-life of skills is decreasing, currently hovering around five years. One billion jobs will need to be reconfigured over the next decade, and young workers will be at the forefront of this change.
One key skill that business leaders would do well to cultivate in their workforce is adaptability. As jobs shift, the skill requirements of each role will also evolve. For individuals to continue to have relevant skills, and for businesses to remain competitive, upskilling is needed.
How to upskill young talent
With this in mind, how can business leaders upskill their young workers over the long-term?
Identify your workforce’s skills: Start by identifying your workers’ current and future skills. Assessing their current skills will give an accurate starting point that progress can be measured against. It’s also worth