Businesses should be showcasing themselves at careers development and skills shows if they want to attract the best young people to their workforce.
The Skills Show, taking place at the NEC in Birmingham this week, is the UK’s biggest event focusing on skills and careers development and is a prime example of how businesses can use such opportunities to raise the skills agenda and tackle skills shortages. Now that there are strong signs that the economy is starting to recover, this is the time to raise skills and maximize business advantage.
Forward-looking businesses should already be making plans to sign up for The Skills Show next year – or getting involved in an independent careers show.
From the exhibitors’ point of view, a promotional roadshow offers the opportunity to set out clearly the skills and attributes they want from future recruits. Marketing techniques ranging from branded materials and hands-on experiences can help them create positive links in the minds of their target audience.
Manchester Airports Group is a case in point. One of the first companies to be awarded a Government Employer Ownership of Skills grant, worth £1.36 million, it plans to expand its community and education links. Last year, it hosted 30 visiting secondary schools in its Concorde Hangar, giving 1,000 young people the chance to be “hands on” and engage in a wide range of interactive tasks across the fields of motor transport, engineering, environment, customer service, retail, airfield and the fire service.
Of the young people attending, 86% rated the event as good or better and many were inspired to think about the airport as a career destination. As one participant in the High Flyers Academy said: “I got to try new things – I never considered being a mechanic before.”
In Scotland, Skills Development Scotland is leading a series of Skills Scotland events. Like The Skills Show programme, these are free to attend and supported by a wide range of employers, training developers, volunteering companies and colleges. In addition to well-known recruiters such as the Armed Forces, McDonald’s Restaurants Ltd and the Royal Mail, participants include the Edinburgh Guarantee – an innovative partnership led by the City of Edinburgh Council to tackle youth unemployment alongside the private, public and voluntary sectors.
For the students, parents and teachers who attend, careers events are a window on the world of work at a crucial time of high youth unemployment: despite the recent economic upturn, the jobless rate for 16-24 year-olds is still running at around 21%; for 18-24 year-olds at 19% and for 16-17 year-olds at 36%, according to statistics published by the House of Commons Library (1).
Businesses need to position themselves for the future. The skill levels of their employees will be paramount in how their business develops – and that means being proactive in the skills marketplace.