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How (and why) you should use the profession potential of your younger staff

December
4, 2020

5 min read

The opinions expressed by the entrepreneur's contributors are their own.

In the turbulence of recent months, young people have been one of the biggest losers on the workforce front. The main burden of vacation days and layoffs was felt particularly under the age of 25. In Europe, unemployment among under-25s rose three times faster than the overall average in May 2020. The consequences of this will be felt long after the immediate crisis has ended. Not just from the individuals themselves, but also from their past, present, and future employers.

Hinder growth

Even brief periods of unemployment at the beginning of a career can affect a young person's long-term career prospects. One month of unemployment between the ages of 18 and 20 results in a lifetime income loss of 2%. Any break from work has an impact on the skills and experiences a young person can develop – skills that are critical to maintaining the job market. This leads to more limited job prospects, a higher likelihood of future unemployment and lower wages.

For employers, this could widen the already growing skills gap. The early loss of young people in their careers also prevents an employer from capitalizing on that person's career potential and their ability to develop and use new skills to meet the changing needs of the business.

Related: 5 Things Executives Can Do For Graduates In The Covid Economy

Everyone has to be involved

It is in everyone's interest to promote a young person's employment and potential to develop new skills. Governments recognize this and place great emphasis on helping young people face the many challenges of 2020. For example, the EU calls on governments to use EU funds to create more jobs and training for young people. The UK government has announced a £ 2 billion program to help boost young people's careers. According to their research, young workers make up almost a quarter (24%) of the UK workforce.

However, it is up to companies to resume these efforts once the immediate urgency and investment cease. The UK Kickstart Program is a 6 month program that does not meet the needs of businesses and young workers. What is required is a long-term, ongoing commitment to a growing youth career – and this begins with consistent training.

Expansion of qualification needs

The half-life of skills is decreasing and is currently around five years. A billion jobs will have to be reconfigured over the next decade and young workers will be at the forefront of this change.

A key skill that executives would do well to develop their workforce is adaptability. As jobs move, so will skill requirements for each role. In order for individuals to retain relevant skills and companies to remain competitive, further education is required.

How to train young talent

How can managers train their young employees in the long term with this in mind?

Identify the skills of your employees: First, identify the current and future skills of your employees. Assessing their current skills provides an accurate starting point against which to measure progress. It is also worth considering what skills a young worker will need in the next one to three years. Just focus on a handful so they don't feel overwhelmed by a mountain of learning paths.

Related: Upskilling, the new normal that businesses would expect in the post-pandemic world

Align with Your Business Goals: Alignment with your business strategy is also vital as it ensures that your young workers' learning efforts add tangible value to your bottom line. Adjust this to suit the goals and interests of each employee and find the common ground on which both your company and employee benefits are built. Fortunately, young workers are already very committed to their professional development. Young workers are also three times more likely to stay with their first employer for five or more years if that employer offers them more learning and career opportunities.

Offer different learning options: By offering a range of different training options, you can meet people who have already spent a lot of time studying with. For example, Gen Z (currently teenagers and early 20s) prefer social and peer-led learning environments with low entry barriers that are available when needed. Almost 40% of workers actively share their knowledge and skills with their colleagues through comments, blogs, videos and other informal means.

Provide practice opportunities: Another critical aspect is to give workers the opportunity to practice their newly learned skills. This step is particularly important for young people who have most of their working life ahead of them. An article in Harvard Business Review reports that 75% of new information is forgotten if not applied within six days of learning. If someone is unable to apply a skill in their day-to-day role, consider stretching assignments, seconding, or volunteering to help remind themselves.

Collecting Data: Finally, you need to collect the correct skill data. Without this, progress cannot be measured or assessed. Start collecting data as soon as a young person begins their role. Use this data to fill out a competency profile (which he owns) and you will get a complete picture of all of his skills and aspirations. This profile can follow them throughout their careers as an accurate record of everything they have accomplished and can help improve their employment prospects.

You will also benefit from this competency data through more in-depth workforce planning, training strategies, and career development, to name a few.

A forward-looking moment

The decisions you make today will take a generation. By helping each young person achieve their career potential and develop the skills they will need for the future, employers will ensure their long-term success as well. You will benefit from an agile, knowledgeable and committed young workforce that is ready to seize new opportunities and adapt to changing business challenges.

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