Many businesses have experienced difficulty recruiting work-ready and appropriately skilled young people. Retention can also be an issue.

CIPD research has shown that:

  • There is a real mismatch between employers’ expectations of young people during the recruitment process and young people’s understanding of what is expected of them.
  • Employers find it difficult to assess young people with limited work experience and young people find it difficult to ‘market’ themselves to employers.
  • Young people value more open recruitment channels, such as social media, above more traditional means of recruitment such as corporate websites and online job boards.
  • Most employers don’t specifically target young people with their recruitment practices, although some have started to change the ways in which they recruit young people to get the best out of young candidates.
  • Job search and the recruitment process are a frustrating and demotivating experience for most young people.  Many young people lack the knowledge about the job opportunities, how to apply for jobs, how to write a good CV and a good application.
  • Too many young people have a scattergun approach to applying for jobs rather than researching where they want to work.
  • Confidence is an issue for many young people and many find interview situations particularly stressful as they have no prior experience of the workplace.
  • Recruitment processes are lengthy and are not very transparent – young people lack an insight of the process and what is expected of them.
  • There is a lack of support for young people during the transition from education to work.
  • Employer feedback is crucial for young people.

This research also makes eight key recommendations specifically aimed at employers:

  • Make the business case for recruiting young people to line managers and colleagues – including the building of talent pipelines, the skills and motivation of young people, workplace diversity, enhanced employer brand, cost effectiveness of developing own staff.
  • Adapt expectations of young people to be realistic about how work-ready they will be when they first arrive – look beyond first impressions and give young people a chance.
  • Think about the roles and access routes for young people into an organisation – could Apprenticeship schemes or school-leaver programmes work?
  • Take action to attract from a wider pool of young people – where and how opportunities are advertised is increasingly important, including social media, recruitment fairs, engaging with schools, through Jobcentre Plus as well as local newspapers and websites.
  • Ensure that selection processes are youth-friendly and transparent including:
    • Provide the closing date and contact details for the advertised position
    • Be open about the recruitment process, stages and expectations of each stage
    • Develop simple, easy-to use application forms
    • Be clear about the selection criteria and review it for each new job
  • Conduct interviews that get the best out of young candidates – provide information about how to dress and who they will be meeting.  Start the interview with an informal chat and tour of the premises.  Strength-based exercises and motivational questions can show the potential to learn.
  • Provide feedback where possible – open, honest, positive and constructive feedback

Read our top recruitment tips for ideas and inspiration.  



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. From 2020, they will give students aged 16 to 18 a technical alternative to A levels and will help them to get a skilled job. As part of the qualification, every student must complete a 45 day industry placement. This is an additional work based qualification route option.

In 2020 T-Levels will be available in Digital, Construction, Education and Childcare. Further T-Levels will be introduced in 2021 with all available from 2022. We will keep you updated on progress. Read more.

Colleges in Somerset have been asked to pilot 'industry placements' before the new qualification is available. As an employer, if you are interested and able to offer a student a 45-day industry placement, please contact us. Note: all students will be studying a sector-relevant qualification, be over 16years of age and take part in an employer-led recruitment process.