Why are employers struggling to retain young talent?

by John Hilton07 Nov 2017
A recent report by Anglicare Australia found up to five young people are now competing for every entry-level job advertised across Australia.

Now, new research by Apprenticeship Support Australia (ASA) on Australia’s youth has found links between average levels of wellbeing and high job turnover, the national skills shortage, increasing university and vocational dropout rates, and multiple employment issues.

The research sought to address the current concerns of employers who are struggling to attract and retain young staff, despite increasing youth unemployment.

The Skillsroad 2017 Youth Census nationally surveyed 13,227 young Australians between the ages of 15-24.

Darren Cocks, ASA’s, managing director said that the fact that young people are ranking pay as the most important consideration when applying for a job demonstrates that they are likely to prioritise money over career paths that they’re genuinely passionate about.

This increases the chances of them ending up in a career they don’t enjoy and impacting their confidence and resilience.

“Given, when an employee resigns, it can cost as much as 400% of their salary, the cost of churn is a heavy burden for many companies,” he said.

“Pursuing careers that are intrinsically important to young people is far more likely to result in engaged staff who enjoy their work, have fewer sick days, benefit from higher levels of wellbeing and are therefore more likely to stay longer.

“As a community we need to be mindful we are not pushing any one career pathway—whether it’s because of a lack of resources or a misguided belief that one tertiary system is better than the other—we need to encourage young people to find out what truly interests them and plays to their strengths.”

The research also found 52.3% of young people still at school are planning to attend university, despite fears of financial hardship for some and a lack of jobs in some sectors after graduation.

While only 15.8% are considering VET pathways—including apprenticeships and traineeships—despite VET graduates being more likely to be in employment post completion than university graduates.

Moreover, the census confirmed that parents possess a huge amount of power in shaping the careers of young people as they were ranked the most likely person to turn to for career advice.

“We need to supply parents with information and tools so that career conversations are positive, un-biased and comprehensive. These conversations need to happen early and present youth with all the options so they have the best chance of choosing the path that suits them, makes them happy—minimising the risk of a false start—and increases wellbeing, said Cocks.

“We need to enable young people to make informed career choices by making a greater investment in educating students on all career pathways, their suitability to these, and how and where to pursue them to improve productivity and reduce employee turnover.”

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