Human resources development, education and training contribute significantly to promoting the interests of young people, enterprises, and society. Employers can contribute to youth employment by ensuring that what young people learn actually boosts, among other things, their employability. Education and training should cultivate in them the skills that employers need to compete locally and internationally.
Employability encompasses the skills, knowledge and competencies that enhance a young person’s ability to gain and retain a job, progress at work and cope with change, secure another job if she/he so wishes or has been laid off, and enter more easily into the labour market at different periods of the life cycle. Young people are most employable when they have broad-based education and training, basic and portable skills, including core skills such as teamwork, problem solving, knowledge of information and communication technologies, and communication and language skills.
Employers can also support youth employment by engaging young people in apprenticeship and internship programmes that provide a valuable introduction to the world of work and have high potential to develop the vocational and technical skills of the young. Such experiences can be usefully combined with traditional, school-based educational programmes and can smooth the school-to-work transition.
One of the many initiatives that employers can undertake to promote the employability of young people is to become involved in initiatives related to their career guidance. This can include visiting individual schools for career days and providing information about specific occupations to school graduates. Other measures include taking part in recruitment fairs and inviting groups of young people to the work place.
Employers can also forge strategic linkages with career counsellors thereby creating a mutual flow of information, as well as a shared understanding of priorities. They can advise school and vocational counsellors on available careers, and current and predicted skills requirements to ensure that young people can be guided into priority areas, for example by emphasizing the development of ICT skills.
An important problem faced by young people when searching for a job is their lack of understanding of the labour market as well as the lack of work experience. There are numerous ways employers can help young people to gain valuable knowledge and experience. Companies can provide young people with internships to familiarize them with the world of work and at the same time assess if the young person could be a candidate for future recruitment.
José Manuel Salazar-Xirinachs
Executive Director, Employment Sector, ILO