3 MIN READ
Date Posted: 16 December 2015
“Teachers at my school often told me that I wouldn’t be able to pass my GCSEs. [EY Foundation’s] Our Futures programme helped me realise that I could achieve anything I wanted.” – Hodan, aged 17, EY Foundation Our Future programme (2015)
The career outcomes of young people in the UK can sometimes be determined before they even leave school – often, sadly, as a result of their background – rather than their actual abilities. For a society to write our young people off like this is socially and economically wasteful.
We often hear that firms struggle to fill vacancies due to skills shortages in the local labour market. And yet there are thousands of young people from disadvantaged groups who have the skills and flair to help grow businesses, but who are just not getting the access they need to those organisations – their talent going to waste.
Flexible and dynamic businesses rely on attracting new skills, experience and insight all the time. But all too often organisations across all sectors don’t take a chance and fish for talent from a bigger pool.
The biggest long-term benefit to recruiting people from diverse backgrounds is UK economic growth. As a business you gain more diverse talent, more diverse and inclusive work forces, more diverse experiences for your customers and better connections back into your local communities.
They could be from a low income community, have grown up in care, or be living on the edges of society. Seeing past a person’s background and circumstances, and giving them an opportunity isn’t just the right thing to do; it makes good business sense.
We are proud of the legacy our charity has inherited from our founders – EY. They have been employing young people from disadvantaged backgrounds for years. Their commitment to helping transform lives through employment was a driving factor in setting up the EY Foundation charity, which I lead.
The EY Foundation has supported over 400 young people into education, employment and enterprise in our first year alone. We aim to help thousands over the next few years through our tailored programmes, giving them paid work placements, skills development and most importantly a dedicated mentor who supports them in making significant life choices.
This would not be possible if we did not work closely with increasing numbers of UK employers who share our vision of training disadvantaged young people for the world of work.
Every day we see a growing desire amongst UK businesses to invest more in developing the skills of a more diverse workforce. It was evident at a recent event we hosted with Best Companies and the Department for Work and Pensions to promote See Potential campaign, which was attended by hundreds of leading companies.
The mind-set of British business is changing. Firms are coming to realise that people from disadvantaged groups bring valuable skills; energy and insight that can help grow their businesses.
I marvel at the amazing, vibrant, enthusiastic young people that the EY Foundation has helped into work - and who could have been lost to employers had they not been open-minded in their recruitment practices. Increasing numbers of firms are actually telling us that they want to do more to get disadvantaged people into their organisations and help fill their talent pipeline.
Reviewing recruitment policy and being more open-minded towards people from disadvantaged backgrounds makes strong financial sense - whatever the size of your business. I also believe it will prove fundamental to Britain’s further economic growth – helping plug the UK’s skills gap and strengthen business.
It’s a social and economic imperative that we collaborate together to help transform lives. Every young person deserves a great start to their working lives and UK employers have an active role to play in determining that. So why not join us and #seepotential?
This article originally appeared as part of the #SeePotential campaign – an initiative of the Department for Work and Pensions