Ticked all the boxes? What’s next?

Written by Adeola Gbakinro, Student at University of Wolverhampton

What do employers look for?

Someone who:

  • Is a team player
  • Has great communication skills
  • Is a leader

But why do some employers still struggle to recruit intelligent young people*?

I attended a Digital Leaders Salon** in Central London where I met many great employers. I heard from internationally recognised companies to SMEs.

They all had the same aim: to recruit. Whether it was for a graduate role, internship or apprenticeship scheme. But one crucial element to increase the number of young people becoming employees was missing.

 “Breaking those barriers.’’

We all face barriers – something that momentarily stops us from achieving what we want.

There are many barriers in securing a job, whether it is the online application, the interview or the funds for transport. That internal battle within to give up or to keep going. It is no different for employers.

Every employer has a barrier they have to overcome in order to recruit an employee.

A selection of employers have thousands of young people applying for a role in their company at any one time. There has to be a way of reducing this. Hence, they look at one’s university degree classification (or predicted) and their A-level grades or equivalent. But what about the not so bright students? Many companies are realising now that there is more to recruitment than education. Aside from extraneous circumstances some employers look at outstanding achievement in an extra-curricular activity whilst others disregard education completely.

Breaking those barriers means giving every young person a chance. Whether the person is from a middle class background or they are the first to go to university in their family. It is about promoting diversity in the workplace by increasing the widening participation.

Regardless of if someone has received top grades at a-levels or they are applying for a school leaver programme, barriers in the application process should not stop them from being recruited. Every employer is different and looks for different qualities when recruiting. Nonetheless, everyone should be given the same opportunity if they prove that they can do the job. A student that graduated with a 1st, beside a young person who has undertaken an apprenticeship role, beside a student who does not have a good academic history but was outstanding during their one year of volunteering. What is this? It is diversity. It is equal opportunity. It is breaking those barriers.

More can be done and I believe in the near future more employers will give young people from different backgrounds the same opportunity to be recruited, regardless of their history. For well-known companies this may simply be making sure that a percentage of those at an assessment centre are from a particular background whereas for others it may be disregarding ucas points in the selection process. Students also need to be encouraged to apply even if they know there will be barriers. If they believe they can do the job required then they should continue in the application process, regardless of the outcome. Recruitment is a two-way process.


*16 – 24 year olds

** www.digileaders.com  @digileaders

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