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What do you want to be when you grow up? The chances are that most young people will reply “YouTuber” over “Systems Architect”.
Research by Education and Employers shows that the jobs young people want don’t align with the careers that will be available to them when they come of age. Not only might this leave many young people unemployable, but we also may not have the future workforce we need to support our increasingly technologically driven world.
So how can we change their minds?
How can we attract more young people to tech?
National careers week took place earlier this month, from 7th to 12 March. The focus on young people and the future of work has raised the question of what employers should be doing today to engage and attract the talent of tomorrow.
National careers week created opportunities for today’s young people to link education with the world of employment and think about their futures. It was equally an opportunity for businesses and industries to start conversations with the future workforce and to engage and inspire young people to start developing skills that will eventually benefit their industries.
National Careers Week was a great starting point for thinking about attracting future employees. But this is not something that businesses, particularly in the STEM arena, should limit to one week out of the calendar. Engaging young people still in education is a critical employer branding and recruitment marketing strategy.
Employers need to be going beyond – or rather below – graduate engagement strategies and starting to engage with their potential workforce before they have made any career decisions and are still at school.
Inspire young people to consider STEM careers
Are you passionate about the industry you work in? Then use your influence to ignite a passion for it and to help young people find their way in the world. Helping young people to understand the scope and breadth of STEM careers and opportunities, and the exciting part they could play in the future world, will help them start designing their future today. This design will include building STEM skills and experience long before they even think about their university application.
How can businesses engage with young people?
There are so many ways businesses can build links to young people and the communities they live in. Employers have a duty to prepare young people for the modern world and connect the world of work with the education system. Educating children and young people about the opportunities that can await them after school is over can be transformative to employment outcomes, particularly in deprived areas.
Engage with local schools
There are many ways that your business could provide tangible support to schools and colleges at all levels. Schools are always looking to expand their enrichment programmes. This might include welcoming visitors into the school to do workshops or exciting demonstrations. It could mean mentoring school leaders or teachers on building skills for STEM careers, or it could be as simple as offering work experience placements to secondary schools and colleges.
Contact your local Careers and Enterprise Company coordinator to be paired up with schools that could most benefit from working with you.
Host workshops, courses or events
Free workshops are a brilliant way for young people to get a taste of your business and industry and the kinds of skills they would need to achieve a career in your field. You can host workshops in person, at your premises or in a hired venue. These days it’s common for workshops to take place in the form of webinars or short online skills courses.
Show your support
Support local education establishments or youth groups by donating hardware or equipment. Donating technology to schools, particularly those in deprived areas, can help close the digital divide and ensure equal access to technology for all children.
You can run courses or offer clubs or mentorship opportunities. You can sponsor local sports teams or school or college events. You could even look for senior members of staff to become school governors.
Consider enterprise competitions that recognise creativity or innovation amongst young people. Engage with local or national youth charities or organisations with an interest in developing opportunities for young people. Or consider setting up a scholarship or bursary scheme for a young person in your local community.
Host career roadshows or community events
A careers roadshow or fair could provide an opportunity to engage with young people who are trying to find what piques their interest and start thinking about the world that awaits them after school. A careers event could be an opportunity to offer demos or skills tests, but you could also host mock interviews or training experiences. You could even host role-playing events where children have the opportunity to pretend to be working adults for a day.
Publicise all your activities
Great PR opportunities are not cynical. It’s certainly possible to want to genuinely give back to the community in a tangible way, whilst benefiting from engagement opportunities and brand exposure, from a traditional marketing perspective as well as employer branding.
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