Earlier this week we launched an exciting project with a long-standing client. We’ve worked with skills organisation City & Guilds for more than five years now – something we were proudly shortlisted for in The Drum’s PR Awards this year.

The work we do together always gives us an opportunity to engage on important, topical issues – from campaigning on the Apprenticeship Levy to changing perceptions on vocational education and championing underrepresented groups in society like older people and key workers. This week’s report was no different. Youth Misspent focuses on the challenges facing young people in the UK today when it comes to education and career opportunities.  

And some of the findings make for difficult reading. A survey that we conducted with research agency Opinium uncovered the fact that youth unemployment currently sits at around 13% and a staggering 9% of 18-24-year-olds who are currently studying or unemployed never plan to start work.  

Yes, this makes for a great headline grabbing piece of content (which incidentally led to us getting City & Guilds’ CEO Kirstie Donnelly onto the BBC, CNBC, The Telegraph, Daily Mail and more). But there were also some important learnings that really resonated with us from an employer perspective.

City & Guilds is making some strong calls on government, employers and educators as part of the campaign and we certainly feel we have a role to play. Young people are the future of our economy. Overlooking their skills development and aspirations when it comes to entering the workplace isn’t going to help any of us.  

Some of the key things we’ve learnt are: 

  1. We need to keep looking at transferrable skills. Rather than just recruiting for the technical skills, we need to make sure opportunities are opened up to a wider pool of candidates – whether that’s taking into consideration a young person’s life experiences as well as their qualifications or offering an internship or work experience to give someone a first foot on the ladder. That’s something we’re doing with our brightlights programme.  
  1. Disadvantaged and minority groups are still being left behind and, with 38% of the young people we surveyed having received free school meals at some point during their education, this isn’t a problem that’s going to go away overnight. We need to think longer term and make sure we are bringing opportunity to all young people, ensuring the comms industry is accessible – whatever a person’s background. Even simple steps like offering paid internships, giving detailed interview feedback, or working with organisations like the Taylor Bennet Foundation, who are already doing an amazing job of broadening horizons for those from minority backgrounds, make a real difference.  
  1. There’s a simple need for better awareness of career opportunities for young people. It’s our job to keep inspiring the next generation if we’re going to maintain a healthy talent pipeline. And it’s something our founder and CEO Paul is passionate about, regularly visiting his own school to keep inspiring the youth of Shropshire.