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Why Britain Businesses must invest in youth

Monday, July 04, 2011 4:44:07 AM

Why Britain Businesses must invest in youth
Those countries who have strong apprenticeship or internship traditions have revealed significantly lower total unemployment rates and higher economic growth rates as they provide their young people with the opportunity to prove themselves in the workplace and contribute to a company’s profits.
The Present:
The UK’s unemployment figures are falling at their quickest rate in nearly a decade; with the number of unemployed people falling by 88,000 in the three months to April! However, one in five people aged between sixteen and twenty four is unemployed in the UK.  In those countries without a history of offering work placement opportunities, the variation between the country’s total unemployment rate and its youth unemployment rates is staggering:
In those countries without a history of introducing young people to the workplace though low-risk internships, employers have clearly been more willing to recruit those with more professional experience, at the likelihood of increased salary costs. For example, Spain has a youth unemployment rate of 44.3% (and a total unemployment rate of 20.7%), Portugal 27.8% (12.6%), Greece 36% (15.9%) and Ireland 31.5% (14.7%)[1][2].  
Those nations that have had developed youth employment schemes in operation historically naturally have lower youth unemployment figures, but they also have markedly lower total unemployment rates too as their countries are typically more prosperous; Germany has a youth unemployment rate of 8.1% (and a total unemployment rate of 6.6%), Austria 9.6% (4.2%) and Switzerland 3.5% (3.1%)[3].
The Future:
These strong economies will continue to grow as a direct result of employing young people. It is unlikely that multinational corporations and foreign governments are comfortable in long-term investment in countries who are likely to face an unskilled generation gap in a couple of decades time.  We worry about the lack of investment into youths by British business, echoing Ian Duncan-Smith’s words at the beginning of the month, and the resultant ‘Lost Generation’ that may result. Further, the economy can only hope to grow if this investment is undertaken.
These unemployment figures are of great benefit to British businesses. This public data can be scaled down to reveal the financial benefits of employing young professionals in your business; build for the future by employing hungry young talent now, even on a flexible temporary basis, and you are creating multi-skilled layers within your organisation at a cost effective rate. Delaying this investment will only result in increased costs as you look to fill a position by competing for the ever-diminishing pool of employees with both experience and qualifications in the future.

[1] Trading Economics (2011)’Unemployment Rates’. Found through the website:
[2] European Commission (2011) ‘EuroStats’. Found through the website:   
[3] Staffing Industry Analysts (2011) ‘Unemployment Rates’. Found through the website: