Partnering up for the youth of tomorrow

Global youth leaders launch Youth Ready Employer Programme

At just 25, Jack Parsons, the British entrepreneur, has established his own organisation, The Youth Group, which works with 1.7 million young people and 1,500 ambassadors, along with more than 200 employers / companies across the UK, to help people aged 18 to 30 transition into fulfilling, productive and financially rewarding work lives.

Ben Towers is cut from the same cloth – an award-winning young UK entrepreneur who is just 21 and started in business aged 11. Having successfully exited his marketing agency, Ben now invests in disruptive start-ups, keynotes to some of the world’s most influential audiences and works actively with organisations (for profit and not) which are interested in joining his mission to change the health outcomes of his generation.

Now, as the result of an established partnership with the Auckland Business Chamber and the Ministry of Social Development, Jack and Ben are in New Zealand for a fortnight of key advisory work that will culminate in the launch of the Youth Ready Employer Programme, a step-by-step programme which shows employers how to bring young people into the workforce and make them confident and productive workers.

In New Zealand, the youth category known as NEETS (young people Not in Education, Employment or Training) has been concerning for many years; in the December 2019 quarter, the seasonally adjusted proportion of people aged 15–24 years who were not in employment, education, or training rose to 11.6 percent, up 0.9 percentage points from 10.7 percent last quarter, according to Statistics New Zealand.

The Youth Ready Employer Programme is explicitly designed to help this cohort, along with others aged up to 30, transition into work and often away from benefit dependency and hardship. The programme includes a number of downloadable resources that will help employers understand, connect, recruit, develop and retain young people along with templates from how to write a youth-first job description to building habits for wellbeing and mental health for young people in the workplace as an employer.

Jack Parsons says, “The Youth Group’s mission is extremely simple; we believe every young person should have the chance to ‘make it’ in whatever they want to do in life. Through this collaboration with key New Zealand agencies we expect this programme will help move the needle in creating opportunities for young people and employers.

“All developed countries are struggling to some extent with how to transition youth into work in the modern, increasingly gig-dominated economy, and how to overcome issues of mental health, loneliness and isolation, social and economic disadvantage and other factors which can be serious obstacles to productive work. It’s in the interests of any local or national economy and all communities to give companies best-practice tools to overcome the everyday barriers which block young people from accessing employment opportunities.”

In the UK, one of over 200 partner organisations The Youth Group is working with is the global accounting firm EY (formerly known as Ernst & Young), which as a leading corporate struggled to identify how to engage with potential employees who had not emerged through the usual university channels. The Youth Group observed a number of barriers to access, including the cost of travel to job interviews, and helped EY stage pop-up interviews where recruiters would travel to potential employees and do five to 10 interviews in each location.

The Minister for Employment, Hon Willie Jackson, says this initiative will support the Government’s employment strategy to grow productive, supportive and inclusive workplaces. “The Ministry of Social Development is very focused on working with New Zealand employers and anticipating the tools and resources they will need to engage successfully with young people. We’re bringing some different thinking and making it easy for employers to effectively engage with a younger workforce and create work environments that make them want to stay.”

Auckland Business Chamber is a key sponsor of the programme and will be making all resources available to employers on its website. Ceo Michael Barnett says, “With the surge in young people entering the workforce there needs to be an attitude and behaviour change among employers as to how they approach employing and retaining youth. The Youth Ready Employer Programme has easy to follow resources that will help employers be the best they can be for each young person that walks into their business.”