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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.



The Government is introducing new grades for GCSEs in England – replacing current grades A* - G with grades 9-1.

 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.


T Levels

T Levels are new 2-year, technical programmes designed with employers to give young people the skills that industry needs. They will give students aged 16 to 18 a qualification relevant to the workplace with UCAS points equivalent to 3 A levels.

In 2020 T-Levels will be available in Digital, Construction and Education & Childcare. Further T-Levels will be introduced in 2021 with all available from 2022. 

Students who complete their T Level will receive an overall grade of pass, merit, distinction or distinction*.

The T Level certificate will include an overall grade for the T Level, shown as pass, merit, distinction or distinction* , a separate grade for the core component, using A* to E and a separate grade for each occupational specialism, shown as pass, merit or distinction.

It will also include confirmation that the student has met the minimum requirements for maths and English qualifications, completed the industry placement and met any additional mandatory requirements

T Levels will provide several progression options to students. These include skilled employment, an apprenticeship and higher education. To help T Level students get into higher education, UCAS tariff points will be allocated to T Levels.

As part of the qualification, every student must complete a 315 hour industry placement, which may be split between 2 employers. If you are an employer looking to build a future talent pipeline, then this is a great opportunity to develop the skills of future employees. If you would like to know more please email support@somerset-ebp.co.uk

For more information on T Levels and how you can get involved as an employer, visit the GOV.UK website

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