Year of Young People 2018
Nurture Young Talent and Overcome the Skills Gap
2018 is the Year of Young People in Scotland, and it’s a great opportunity for businesses to reflect on how they can help talented young people to develop their skills for the future.
The skills gap in Scotland is increasing, along with the rest of the UK. A recent study found that 24% of Scotland’s job vacancies were unfilled due to a skills shortage. This spells bad news for several sectors, as well as for the economy.
There are many ways that companies can do their bit to overcome the skills gap. Upskilling current employees is one of them. But forward-thinking companies must consider their long-term strategy. What are you doing now to address the increasing skills gap that will be facing your industry in the future?
When businesses help develop young talent, they are not only investing in young people - they are investing in the future of their industry.
Recognised as Investors in People since 1999, and Investors in Young People since 2016, young people are the lifeblood of our business.
At 20/20 Productions we have many projects, initiatives and procedures in place to continue to nurture talent - we offer opportunities to all age groups in education, from school to college, university and graduates. We believe we all have a part to play in encouraging, training and supporting young entrants.
So, how can you nurture young talent?
1. Start early
You don’t need to wait until young people are already in the job market to start developing their skills. Internships, placements and apprenticeships are fantastic opportunities to help grow talents, and for young people to learn how they can improve on their existing skills to enter the world of work.
If your company doesn’t already have an internship programme in place, consider setting one up. Besides being beneficial for the intern, internships can benefit employers, and placements can lead to full time employment. The reward for investing some time to train up a young person, who could be an excellent member of staff with a finely-tuned skill set, could meet the needs of your business.
At 20/20 Productions, we have a long-standing relationship with many Scottish universities including Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh Napier and St Andrews. Each year we take on students to shadow the MD, get stuck in with the production team, or hone their skills in an edit suite. And some of our senior staff began as interns at our Edinburgh office.
Offering your services as a guest speaker at universities and colleges is another good idea, as it helps to guide young people early on. They have the opportunity to learn about which skills they should hone to become valuable in the job market. If there is a skills gap in your industry, informing young people about this through talks may spark an interest and drive to develop skills that will benefit both your company and your industry in the long run.
2. Take ambition seriously
It’s all too easy to be dismissive of young talent, but dampening the spirits of an ambitious young person is a mistake. As the Year of Young People campaign highlights, young people can and do play a huge role in innovation. Creativity and different perspectives are invaluable to a company. With encouragement, and a good mentor to direct their enthusiasm in the right direction, the potential of an ambitious young person is limitless.
Do you receive emails from plucky applicants hoping to get some advice or experience? Don’t leave them unanswered - respond! If you take the time to respond to a young person’s questions and steer them in the right direction, you may be laying the foundations for their future. Make it a rule to always offer a small amount of your time to respond to a young person if they have tried to contact you. This shows determination and drive – surely things that we should be encouraging in young people.
3. Make opportunities
Don’t limit someone due to their age. If you have a younger worker, you might feel hesitant to delegate a task to them. Ask yourself whether this hesitance comes from a legitimate place – has your employee shown signs of not being able to complete a similar task, or have you presumed this inability, based on a preconception?
In my view, when it comes to the world of work, if you’re good enough, you’re old enough. I was given huge opportunities at a very young age – something I have not forgotten – and this gave me confidence in my own abilities.
Being given opportunities to prove themselves is how people learn. Encouragement and positive feedback can be a huge motivator for young people, especially if they have less experience, as they have no point of reference for whether their performance is good. So go ahead and push your young workers to strive for greatness – invite them to that pitch, let them lead that project. Your confidence in them will boost their self-confidence. You might be surprised to see how, given the right opportunity, your young workforce develops in leaps and bounds.
4. Make them responsible
If you are creating opportunities for young workers, it’s important to make them as accountable as more established staff. Whilst positive encouragement is a motivator, this should not be a reason to ‘go easy’ on a young person whose work is not satisfactory. Make sure your young employees are aware of their responsibilities, and when they fall short, let them know. Setting clear targets, and having a straightforward process to discuss when things go wrong is a great learning opportunity.
A constructive discussion will leave young workers with a greater understanding of their role, and how they can improve on their performance for next time. Knowing you have been there at the start of someone’s career journey can be exciting - who knows how skilled they could become in five years’ time?
Our young workforce is our legacy. By nurturing young talent, we can help them to build the skills necessary to overcome the skills gap, benefiting our industries, our economy, and young people themselves. In 2018, the Year of Young People, we look forward to continuing the conversation about young people and what we can do to help them succeed.