KFC has pledged to ensure that a third of its new hires in the UK by 2030 will be young people facing barriers to employment, after research found few employers offer young people the opportunity to acquire professional skills.
A survey commissioned by the fast food chain and charity UK Youth found that 87% of employers recognized the importance of nurturing young talent, but few were taking action to develop their skills and abilities.
Forty-two percent of 16-25 year olds felt that hands-on work experience or on-the-job training was what they needed most from employers, but 37% of organizations did not offer any work experience opportunities. This despite the fact that 55% of organizations consider hands-on work experience a primary consideration when hiring.
One in 10 employers does not offer any support or training to young employees.
When asked why they had not invested in the development of professional skills for young people, 26% of employers replied that they lacked the time and 23% did not have the money.
Maddie Dinwoodie, Head of Programs at UK Youth, said: “The pandemic and now the cost of living crisis is having a huge impact on the employment prospects of this generation of young people, despite the record number of vacancies. Unleashing talent and helping all young people find jobs must be a priority, especially those who are unemployed or underemployed.
“At UK Youth, we want to unlock youth work for all young people. Youth work is essential to help young people get through these uncertain times. It can be life changing, and even life saving. Youth work gives young people the tools they need to support their personal development, manage their well-being, increase their self-confidence, and connect and build trust with others in their community.
KFC is committed to helping 16-24 year olds find employment through the Hatch employability scheme, which was developed by UK Youth. The program helps disadvantaged youth land their first job through one-on-one training and hands-on work experience, with participants completing the program with a job interview at KFC.
KFC and UK Youth have called on the government to fund similar youth recruitment and employability schemes; reform post-16 education and apprenticeship policy to focus on the skills businesses need; develop a strategy to connect young people to local jobs; and introduce tax incentives for businesses to invest in skills development for young people.
Meghan Farren, Managing Director of KFC UK & Ireland, said: “If we are to tackle labor shortages and deliver better jobs and economic growth across the country for the next generation, we absolutely must urgently helping young people who have been excluded from education and training opportunities to find their place and voice in the workplace.
“Helping the next generation is an investment in the future of our businesses. It starts with employers, like us, investing in programs like Hatch that support and empower young people, regardless of background. But we can’t make this change alone, we need government to give the next generation the tools and support they need if we are truly to unlock the potential of today’s youth.
Research involving 2,000 young people and 1,000 employers also found that:
- 81% of young people believe that an employer has undervalued their skills because of their age
- 32% of employers think young people have a good work ethic. Most young people see it as the best quality of their workplace
- 39% of employers believe that “being a good team player” is a quality that young people possess. Most young people ranked this quality among their top three attributes.
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