How can schools and employers best work together to benefit young people?

Two new publications from Education and Employers Research provide new insight into the question.

Previous research by Education and Employers and others has demonstrated that young people who have rich employer engagement as part of their teenage education go on to do better in the workplace: earning more and being less likely to be unemployed than peers. In two new publications, the Research team collaborate with leading academics to ask how can be best explain such employment boosts and whether it is becoming more urgent for employers to work with schools to help young people compete for available jobs.

Working with the University of Manchester’s Dr Steven Jones, the Education and Employers team has analysed testimonies from hundreds of young adults setting out what, if anything, they felt they got from their teenage school-mediated employer engagement.

The ‘Employer Engagement Cycle’ in Secondary Education: analysing the testimonies of young British adults

Analysis shows that young people most commonly felt that they changed the way that they thoughts about themselves, their education and career aspirations as a result of being involved in experiences which they felt they could learn from – because they gave authentic insights into the working world. The results are set out in a new peer-reviewed article in the leading international academic publication: the Journal of Education and Work.

In a second publication, working with Prue Huddleston, Emiratus Professor at the University of Warwick, the results of focus groups with individual recruiters from more than thirty employers, of varying types, sectors and sizes are presented.

What do recruiters think about today’s young people? Insights from four focus groups

The focus groups tested the conclusions from earlier interviews with eight leading commentators, including the OECD’s Andreas Schleicher, on the changing nature of the world of work and how these related to their work. The focus groups showed strong support for the idea that jobs and careers had become more difficult for young people to understand, that school to work transitions had become more fragmented (requiring better recruitment skills) and that, largely because of changes in use of technology, employers had become more demanding of recruits. The participants explore the consequences of these changes for schools and colleges and look at the teaching of Mathematics as a case study.

The paper concludes with a commentary from Kevin Green, CEO of the Recruitment & Employment Confederation, the body representing thousands of individuals and organisations working in recruitment.

Head of Research, Dr Anthony Mann says: “The two papers taken together help illustrate why it is so important to bring the worlds of education and employment closer together. Due to structural changes, they have been drifting apart to the detriment of young people. We need to make employer engagement an everyday part of schooling in order to give young people every opportunity to connect with those working people can provide the trusted knowledge and insight which makes the greatest difference.”