The north-east weathered the recession better than other parts of the country, but the recent downturn in the oil and gas industry has demonstrated that there continues to be upheaval.
The north-east has continually seen a skills gap that is greater than the national average. Almost a quarter (24%) of employers in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire report that they have at least one skill gap, above the Scottish average of 19%.
Part of the answer is likely to lie in how businesses develop young people. Investing in apprenticeships is a credible solution to addressing the skills gap. Apprenticeships blend on-the-job training and transferable skills, which are well-suited to the multi-disciplinary nature of work in the 21st century. To meet these challenges, businesses will need to collaborate with schools and colleges to develop dedicated apprenticeship schemes where young people can gain hands-on experience.
Fortunately, businesses in the north-east won’t need to look far for help because a significant number of employers in Scotland are leading the way in demonstrating the good practice and benefits of recruiting, developing and retaining young people.
Investors in Young People (IIYP) was launched by Investors in People (IIP) Scotland last year, with support from the Scottish Government, to encourage, support and recognise employers who are active in working with young people.
IIYP has quickly gained momentum and there are now nearly 200 organisations using the framework. These range from large corporations to SMEs, housing associations and organisations in the third sector. Businesses in the north-east that have become accredited include Ledingham Chalmers, Proserv, Aberdeen Sports Village and Axis Well Technology.
At IIP, we believe young people are the solution to the rise of skills shortages in Scotland’s workforce. We encourage businesses to employ young people in order to increase life skills for all employees including those young persons involved. Furthermore, by investing time in training young people, businesses are creating and sustaining a talent pool for the future.
IIYP provides a ready-made framework for organisations to develop and evaluate their approach for recruiting and developing young people whatever the driver for the business. IIYP offers support and guidance to businesses on a wide variety of issues from how to recruit young people to development and retaining young workers, and indeed offering support in employing apprentices.
The benefits of recruiting and developing young people are countless. These include new and increased skills in areas such as IT and social media, fresh eyes and mindsets into business operations along with enthusiasm and unique talents. The IIYP framework not only recognises and supports organisations in the employment of young people, but marks them out as an employer of choice.
While we continue to adapt IIYP to the needs of organisations, employers in Scotland continue to demonstrate their commitment and interest in working with young people. We anticipate the number of participating organisations will double in 2015, as employers become increasingly aware of the value that investing in young people brings, and employees look for evidence of an organisation’s commitment to their needs.