Published on 14th July 2023
A recent survey by our member Randstad reveals that a third of students are concerned about their job prospects after university. These concerns are exacerbating mental health issues which are already increasingly affecting young people.
According to a 2022 OECD report, the main reason why many young people struggle to find employment is because they are missing an understanding of today’s labour market and the preparation to enter into it. Their aspirations, qualifications and skills are frequently mismatched with labour market expectations.
The same OECD report explains that surveys show that young people who had participated in guidance activities at school, connecting directly with employers and people in work, can expect lower levels of youth unemployment, higher wages and greater job satisfaction.
But the world of work is changing fast. With the labour market being increasingly skills-based rather than defined by jobs, understanding how the skills landscape is changing across geographies and countries is vital. Skills that were popular even a few years ago may not be as needed anymore. The opposite is also true. Lightcast analysed skills needs in Europe and observed significant disparities between now and a decade ago. For instance, customer support and advertising were two of the most in-demand skills across all sectors in the United Kingdom in 2013. Now, they don’t even make the top 10 of the list. Different skills have emerged too. Nursing and mental health are now heavily required, as is audit. Yet, in 2013, the demand for these skills was remarkably lower.
To best support our youth on the pathway to employment, we must build further bridges between education and the world of work. As the HR services industry, we are ideally placed to close not only the skills gap but also the expectations mismatch.
First, by providing career support. Career management experts have a broader view of labour markets. They understand the skills needed in the market and can help individuals align their aspirations to those needs. But skilling alone is not sufficient to navigate sustainably in a fast-moving world of work where transitions are non-linear and more frequent than ever.
“It is not about playing checkers; it is about learning to play chess.” Career management helps deploy a strategy for employability, building upon one’s aspirations and strengths and enabling a lifelong learning mindset. As a result, individuals feel enabled to take control of their careers and increase their sense of empowerment. Career satisfaction is a crucial part of the overall well-being conversation.
Secondly, our industry is instrumental in providing employment opportunities to young people. Students and recent graduates often use agency work to get their first work experience and develop their skills. Students represent 36 percent in Belgium, 22 percent in The Netherlands, 21 percent in Spain and 20 percent in Finland. By easing labour market access for young people, agency work also helps mitigate and reduce the risk of unemployment and long-term unemployment patterns. This is also done through apprenticeships, and the industry has recently contributed to discussions at the International Labour Organisation to establish a regulatory framework on quality apprenticeships.
On this World Youth Skills Day, the HR services industry joins the United Nations’ call to commit to providing young people with the skills and opportunities they need to build a prosperous and sustainable world for all. We fully support the assessment that technological advancements and shifting labour market dynamics increasingly call for agile and adaptable skill sets and that it is crucial to empower young people to navigate these changes effectively.
We believe in enabling labour markets for all, to increase diversity and inclusion for the benefit of individuals, companies and society.