Recruitment & Qualifications

Recruiting young people

Many businesses report difficulty recruiting work-ready and appropriately skilled young people. Whilst specific challenges vary, there is often a mismatch between employers’ and young people’s approach and expectations during recruitment. The following information can help you engage with young people more successfully.



Recruitment Tips


Timing and planning

Although recruitment needs do not revolve around the academic year, there are key periods when students in their last year of school or college make decisions and when it is easiest to communicate with them. If you can plan your future recruitment in advance, you will be able to communicate more effectively with young people to attract them to your business. 

Mark Bolton, Principal at Yeovil College in Somerset, shares his insights on how and when to recruit young people into your business in the video below:

October to December - students begin considering their future options and will attend careers fairs and talks. This is a good time to raise young people’s awareness of your business.

January to March – students planning to continue in education will make applications now for places in September. If you know that you will require new starters later in the year this is a good time to begin your recruitment process, so that young people consider employment as an option.

April to June – revision and exams kick in. It is difficult to access young people during this period. Whilst school students will remain at school until the end of term, college students will leave as soon as their exams are over.

July and August – students are free to commence employment.


Reaching your audience

Unless you are a well-known brand or locally significant business young people are unlikely to know of your employment opportunities. Supporting careers activity at your local school or college is a great way to build awareness among potential future recruits. Read more

The plethora of media platforms available today can make it difficult to get your opportunity seen.

Young people primarily engage through social media platforms such as YouTube and Instagram. Investing some time to create a company Instagram account and YouTube channel will help you reach your market. You can also purchase targeted advertising space on these channels at a low cost.


Positioning your offer

Pay is just one factor influencing how attractive your vacancy is to young people. Emily Steel shares her insights on how Leonardo Helicopters attract and retain some of the best and most talented young people in Somerset in the video below:

You can generate more interest by addressing:

  • Location and travel - if you are in an isolated location without public transport this can be a barrier to those young people who lack the confidence or means to travel independently. Providing travel support – which may range from a subsidy (offset by salary reductions) or a lift from a co-worker can help address this.
  • Hours - if your business operates strict shift patterns or rotas it is important to be clear on this. If you can offer flexibility such as a shorter week with reduced pay or a flexible hours policy this may be attractive.
  • Development and progression - this is important to young people starting their careers. Can you specify how candidates can develop their skills in your business? If the role is fixed-term it is important to make this clear.


The Recruitment Process

Formal recruitment processes can be scary for young people, particularly those without good support. Reducing the stress involved can improve the performance of your candidates. Basic information should include the closing date and contact details for the advertised position.

Many young people have had little opportunity to develop a comprehensive CV. Competency based assessment is a helpful alternative. This allows the employer to set out the requirement e.g. ‘ability to greet customers politely’ and the applicant to outline their suitability from a non-work context e.g. ‘teachers have commented how polite I was in school’.

Caroline Derrick, Employment Skills and Training Manager at Sedgemoor District Council, explains the benefits of competency based recruitment for the employer and the candidate.

For those invited to the next stage clear guidance on dress standards will reduce anxiety. Is a suit and tie / suit and blouse necessary?

A formal interview panel may not get the best out of the candidates. Alternative approaches could include:

  • Work-based tasks allowing the young person to demonstrate relevant skills
  • Meeting candidates as a group to view how they interact

Once you have recruited providing unsuccessful candidates will help them prepare for their next opportunity – and will leave them with a positive view of your company.



Qualifications are constantly changing and many employers are left confused about the meaning of some qualification types, grading systems and levels.

There are 9 qualification levels in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. For a full list click here.


T Levels - click here for more information

Click here to read more about how businesses are making the most of T Level industry placements including a case study from Yeovil District Hospital NHS Foundation Trust (YDH) on how they are piloting industry placements.


Apprenticeships - If you are interested in offering an apprenticeship,
visit Skill Up Somerset for more information


GCSE Grades

The Government has introduced new grades for GCSEs in England – replacing current grades A* to G with grades 9 to 1.

Grade 9 is the highest grade and Grade 4 is the benchmark for a pass at GCSE.

How may this affect your recruitment practices?

If you currently advertise vacancies with a requirement for a certain grade of GCSE you will need to add the numeric grading to your recruitment materials.

The Government recognises Grade 4 as a ‘standard’ pass and ‘grade 5’ as a strong pass. If your recruitment benchmark is currently set at GCSE grade C, then it would be reasonable to ask for a Grade 4 in the new system. If you wish to raise the bar on your entry requirement then you could ask for a Grade 5. Read more.

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