Young peo­ple key to busi­nesses’ fu­ture

The Oban Times - - BUSINESS NEWS -

Nearly four out of five busi­nesses in the High­lands and Is­lands have high­lighted the im­por­tance of em­ploy­ing and re­tain­ing young peo­ple and are tak­ing steps to ad­dress the chal­lenges of do­ing so.

The lat­est High­lands and Is­lands En­ter­prise (HIE) Busi­ness Panel sur­vey in­ter­viewed 1,000 busi­nesses in June this year.

Re­cruit­ing young peo­ple was viewed as im­por­tant by 79 per cent of them; more so with firms of 25 or more em­ploy­ees.

Young peo­ple are de­fined as em­ploy­ees in the early stages of their ca­reer. The top ben­e­fits of hav­ing them on board were given as fresh per­spec­tive (79 per cent), po­ten­tial for de­vel­op­ment (68 per cent), abil­ity to re­place lost skills (59 per cent), and ac­qui­si­tion of new skills (56 per cent).

The main char­ac­ter­is­tics looked for in young tal­ent were at­ti­tude and work ethic (88 per cent), com­mu­ni­ca­tion skills (77 per cent), de­sire to keep learn­ing (77 per cent), and time man­age­ment (76 per cent).

Nearly half of re­spon­dents had re­cruited or tried to re­cruit young tal­ent in the past two years. The main chal­lenges they faced were find­ing can­di­dates with the re­quired skills and the right at­ti­tude and work ethic.

Around a quar­ter had used mod­ern ap­pren­tice­ships and a fifth had used grad­u­ate place­ment pro­grammes. Most of those hoped to re­tain and de­velop their ap­pren­tice or grad­u­ate.

Sixty-two per cent of firms that em­ployed young peo­ple found it easy to re­tain them, the re­main­der, who found it chal­leng­ing, high­lighted the main is­sues as a ten­dency to move on af­ter be­ing trained, and the need for em­ploy­ers to be able to of­fer com­pet­i­tive salaries and ca­reer pro­gres­sion. Lo­ca­tion, ac­com­mo­da­tion, em­ploy­ment for part­ners and child­care were also seen as chal­lenges, par­tic­u­larly in the more ru­ral ar­eas.

Steps be­ing taken by em­ploy­ers to re­tain younger em­ploy­ees in­clude train­ing, of­fer­ing com­pet­i­tive pay, pro­vid­ing men­tor­ing and feed­back, of­fer­ing flex­i­ble work­ing, and pro­gres­sion op­por­tu­ni­ties.

The study also re­ported that 81 per cent of busi­nesses were very or fairly op­ti­mistic about their prospects, with 40 per cent ex­pect­ing growth in the next year or two.

As in pre­vi­ous sur­veys, the sin­gle mar­ket and free move­ment of peo­ple were viewed by re­spon­dents as more im­por­tant to the econ­omy over­all than to their own busi­nesses. Al­most all (92 per cent) were con­fi­dent they had the skills they needed for the next two years, but were less cer­tain about the longer term.

Car­roll Bux­ton, HIE’s di­rec­tor of re­gional de­vel­op­ment, said: ‘With this be­ing the Year of Young Peo­ple, we have taken the op­por­tu­nity in our sur­vey to ex­plore some of the main is­sues around the im­por­tance of young peo­ple to the re­gion’s work­force. From the feed­back, it is clear that many em­ploy­ers recog­nise the ben­e­fits as­so­ci­ated with hav­ing young peo­ple as part of their team and are tak­ing steps to se­cure those ben­e­fits for their own busi­ness.

‘This feed­back has been very use­ful in high­light­ing, not only the ben­e­fits, but the chal­lenges of re­cruit­ing and re­tain­ing younger em­ploy­ees.’

The re­port is avail­able at: busi­ness panel sur­vey

Pho­to­graph: Tim Win­ter­burn

Re­cruit­ing young peo­ple is viewed as im­por­tant by 79 per cent of busi­nesses; more so with firms of 25 or more em­ploy­ees.

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