Are employers failing young workers?

Don’t write off new graduates because of a lack of career experience, a recruitment expert cautions

Are employers failing young workers?

Young workers and new graduates may not have years of experience under their belts, but their soft skills and networking abilities may bring advantages to your company, a recruitment expert says.

Lisa Smith, president and CEO of The Staff Room, encourages employers to look at how young workers’ backgrounds and skill sets might translate to their business’ needs, and to give them work opportunities that go beyond just office admin or coffee runs.

The HR consultant and her team offer career coaching to young workers, aged 15 to 29, to help them find not just jobs, but careers.

“They really don’t have a voice out there, employers are not really listening to them, and they’re not really guided in the way they should be. We’ve taken the initiative and we’ve been pretty successful on helping them get the proper resumes out there and helping them do interviews, so that they’re successful,” Smith says.

Durham, Ontario, where The Staff Room is based, has a historically high youth unemployment rate.

Smith’s made it her mission to help those younger workers find and pursue opportunities, partnering with local organizations and schools to “be an extension of career centres”.

“We don’t just teach ‘this is how your resumé and cover letter should be’. Here’s interview skills, here’s how to network – networking is so key these days, and these kids are out there, they’re networking, and they don’t even realise that they’re networking. It’s something that we want to get out and teach them.”

The Staff Room – a finalist for External HR Advisor/Consultancy of the Year at the 2016 HR Awards – also gives young workers opportunities in-house to gain work experience.

“We will bring interns or co-op students on board – as many as we can possibly have – and we will help train them in real-life situations. Not ‘go get my coffee and make photocopies’, but ‘here’s clients to call, and here’s things you need to do’.

“We’ll help train them, and we’ll work with the schools in order to try and get them jobs related to the field of study,” Smith says.

Smith hopes other employers will give young workers a chance, and view their existing skills through a lens of opportunity.

“Companies want experience as well as education, but sometimes there are skills that are there, there are jobs that they’ve done in the past with transferable skills.

“Youth need to be heard. It’s one thing to listen to them, but actually to sit down and talk to them – they’re very intelligent, and I don’t think they should be dismissed as much as they are.”

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