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The Future of Work – NUS

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As the 2015 General Election approaches, the National Union of Students (NUS) is placing an increasing emphasis on student and study-leaver employment issues, building on its Commission on the Future of Work report, launched in March 2014. The report investigated the reality of employment for working students and study leavers, and highlighted a disconnect between aspirations and reality. The findings have provided a valuable basis for NUS’s policy and campaign work in this area, as Natalie Swan, Campaigning Partnership & Policy Officer explains.

In order to provide as broad a basis as possible for this work, NUS appointed twelve commissioners representing a broad range of views and expertise. This ranged from the Trades Union Congress (TUC) to the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), and from the British Chamber of Commerce (BCC) to the UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES). Chief Executive of the Association of Graduate Recruiters (AGR), Stephen Isherwood also sat on the board of Commissioners, providing insight into the reality of work for graduates and how to further develop meaningful links between students, study leavers and employers.

With almost 50 organisations submitting evidence to the commission, the report, launched in parliament on 16th March 2014, highlights five key themes to emerge from submissions. These themes are around wider labour market challenges; education reform; the employability of young people; guidance and choices for education and careers; and connecting partners across government, education providers, and employers. Key to the commission’s findings was the importance of linking these themes, increasing both the quantity and quality of opportunities for students to engage with skills development, employers and work experience, as well as the time to develop their thoughts relating to their own career paths and how they can achieve their career goals.

The NCUB’s Employability Index has highlighted the sizeable mismatch between what surveyed students expect and what they achieve in the labour market – almost 80% of students expect to be in graduate level employment within six months, but according to the Office for National Statistics, little more than half of graduates are in graduate level employment five years after graduating. Key, therefore, is ensuring that the labour market offers more high quality employment opportunities for study leavers, and that careers advice − throughout school and higher education, but also importantly post-graduation − is available to graduates. This must be combined with quality skills development through meaningful work experience and education for young people around working rights. This will allow study leavers to call for work experience and entry level jobs with fair remuneration and that offers them the skills and opportunities to progress in their chosen careers.

It will now be important to build upon both the work commission and its report to ensure that work students and study leavers offers the opportunity for young people to develop meaningful careers.

There is a clear role for the business community in bridging the divide between expectation and reality, and NUS will be focusing its efforts in this area going forward. Employers need to engage with students, focussing on skills development and remuneration to ensure equality of opportunity for young people to access the careers of their own choosing. NUS also encourages employers to engage with their local student unions, working together around local employability, as well as exploring how they can engage working students throughout the calendar year to retain them across the academic year, leading to continued engagement post-graduation.


First published in the April/May edition of AGR’s Graduate Recruiter magazine.

The Student Fee Rise – Four Years On

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In November 2010, as students protested across the country over the change to £9k fees, UCAS was receiving applications for the last year of £3k tuition fees. As the admissions cycles have unfolded, the Analysis and Research team at UCAS have tracked how applications and admissions have changed and, four years on, Mark Corver, Director of Analysis and Research, UCAS can answer the five burning questions about higher tuition fees…

Full article here: http://www.agr.org.uk/News/the-student-fee-rise–four-years-on/102501#.VTZLX_DnFQO

NUS appoints new Chief Executive – Simon Blake

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Following an extensive search campaign supported by Proventure Consulting, NUS has appointed its new Chief Executive. Simon Blake, who is currently Chief Executive at Brook – the national health charity which focuses on young people will start work during May. Simon brings long term senior management and leadership experience in membership, campiaging and high quality service delivery organisations.

Read more here: NUS release   Simon Blake on Twitter   Brook

CIPD – Employers are from Mars, young people are from Venus

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Interesting implications for how employers and young potential recruits should approach each other in an effort to more easily meet. CIPD research reveals a gulf in expectations between young people and employers that is contributing to high levels of youth unemployment.

There is a clear mismatch between employers’ expectations of young people during the recruitment process and young people’s understanding of what is expected of them. This is hindering young people’s access to the labour market, contributing to the high rates of youth unemployment (currently almost one in five 16-24 years old is unemployed*) and fuelling a ticking time bomb of skills shortages for UK businesses, who may be unwittingly limiting their access to this important and diverse pool of talent. These are the findings of the latest research from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), being launched today at a joint event with Business in the Community (BITC).

The report, Employers are from Mars, young people are from Venus: Addressing the young people/jobs mismatch, identifies a number of flash points that are hindering young people from finding work, including:

  • Many employers state that they require ‘experience’, even for relatively junior roles, which then creates a vicious cycle for those young people who do not have access to work opportunities. This also prevents businesses from taking advantage of a diverse talent pool and can result in paying above the odds for skills they could have honed internally.
  • A lack of feedback, or even acknowledgement, after applying for jobs is de-motivating and crushing the confidence of many young people. On the flipside, some employers are overwhelmed by a large volume of ‘scattergun’ applications from young people who have done nothing to research and tailor their applications to the specific role.
  • Selection and recruitment processes are often lengthy and not very transparent, meaning that young people have no idea about the stages involved or what they should do to prepare. This, and failure to tailor interviews for people who have no prior experience of work (currently only one in four employers report that they adapt their recruitment practices for young people**), often means that employers are left disappointed by a process that does not get the most out of young people. When polled, more than three quarters (77%) of frontline Jobcentre Plus staff felt that employers should adapt their recruitment practices to make them more youth friendly.
  • Poor careers advice and guidance in schools, coupled with a lack of support available to young people during the transition from education to work, means that many young people have little understanding of the world of work and don’t know where to turn to or how to improve their chances of finding a job.

The report, which draws on a range of sources, including interviews with high profile employers, young people, training providers and Jobcentre Plus advisers, is being launched today alongside tips for recruiting young people, aimed at employers.

Commenting, Peter Cheese, Chief Executive at the CIPD, says: “When it comes to recruitment it can feel as though young people and employers are on completely different planets. Too many young people are struggling to find their first job, whereas many employers are finding it difficult to get the skills they need. This mismatch needs to be addressed, not only to reduce youth unemployment and the long-term impact it can have on young people, but also to ensure UK businesses are equipped with the right talent for the future.”

“Many employers tell us that they want to do more to help young people and we have today published research and a set of recommendations for businesses on how to adapt recruitment practices to make them more youth friendly. This includes simple tips such as undertaking interviews that build confidence rather than focus on past work experience, providing clear information about the recruitment process and acknowledging applications.”

“It is also clear that young people are not getting the careers advice and guidance they need to help make the right choices and understand how best to apply for jobs. Policy makers need to do more to ensure that careers advice and guidance are embedded into the national curriculum with more support for young people during the transition phase between education and employment. This will ensure that young people are better prepared for the world of work and can do more to help themselves during the recruitment process.”

Graham Bann MVO, Executive Director, Talent and Skills, at BITC, adds: “It is great to see a report which tackles a problem at the heart of the skills system in the UK namely; how businesses are failing to engage effectively with the next generation of talent. It even better to see that this report highlights the practical steps which business can take to  make sure they get this right and attract the brightest and most innovative young people into their businesses.”

Over the coming months the CIPD will be working with the Education and Employers Taskforce on a scheme to get volunteers into schools to provide CV and interview workshops. The CIPD will also be developing a set of recommendations on recruitment targeted at young people.

Full article: http://www.cipd.co.uk/pressoffice/press-releases/employers-from-mars-young-people-venus-250413.aspx