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Don’t miss out on 7 in 10 young jobseekers over “lack of experience”

Research commissioned by Virgin Media O2, reveals that three quarters (74%) of 25–34-year-olds have been rejected from an entry-level role because they didn’t have enough experience with a third (37%) saying they’ve felt underqualified when applying. 

In an evolving workplace landscape, we have got to do better by our young people to set them up for career success in today’s hyper-competitive job market.

The report indicates that 77% of individuals consider work experience important, even for entry-level positions. It's also crucial to recognise the significance of developing essential skills. The reality is that 40% of individuals lack opportunities to build these skills in school, resulting in what is termed the "Skills Trap". This situation occurs when individuals start in an education setting with few opportunities to build essential skills, which leads to low value placed on those skills and lower skill levels. Beyond education, these people tend to secure lower skilled, lower paid jobs that in turn provide fewer opportunities to build essential skills and ultimately lower life satisfaction. 

Hiring for essential skills levels the playing field

As employers increasingly remove work experience and qualifications for their role requirements, hiring for skills needs to be robust to ensure that while one bias is removed, another is not upheld. 

To create more inclusive recruitment practices, businesses should explicitly indicate the essential skills that they are recruiting for. Almost two thirds (64%) of working age adults would be more likely to apply to a role if it clearly and transparently explained the essential skills required in the job description. 

The Skills Builder Universal Framework makes transferable skills explicit by breaking each into 16 measurable steps – the key mechanism for making skills-based recruitment work.

Because each step is sufficiently specific about what is needed in the role, it is therefore able to be tested precisely in recruitment – and can be particularly helpful for entry level roles where candidates may not have direct work experience.

To take Teamwork as an example, are you looking for someone who can contribute to group decision making (step 6), or is on time and reliable (step 2). Or take Problem Solving, does this position require someone who completes tasks by finding information they need for themself (step 3), or do they need to be able to explore problems and create different possible solutions (step 4).

Emma Reay, Head of Employer Partnerships at Skills Builder, says that to make skills requirements clear, employers need to begin with their language: “It’s easy to assume candidates understand the specific and technical language that you’re used to within your organisation. We guide employers to think about how they can ensure they are using the language of essential skills at every stage of the selection process”. 

Essential skills with Amey

‍Amey, an infrastructure services and engineering company, with more than 10,000 employees across the UK, partnered with Skills Builder to boost employee development and increase the impact of their outreach. Amey’s participation in the Government’s post-pandemic Kickstarter work experience scheme for unemployed young people was a catalyst for getting involved. Amey needed to demonstrate that the programme was more than just something people did, but that it had measurable benefits and outcomes. The work involved adopting the Universal Framework into their programme to bring younger talent into the business and facilitated career pathways for the communities they worked with.

Skills Builder supported with measuring essential skills progress throughout the Kickstarters' programme journeys, enabling Amey to identify impact and support participants to either join the business or progress confidently into the next stage of their career.

Amey has since gained a Gold Excellence Mark for their broader work in recruitment and staff development using the Universal Framework.