A startling and depressing fact is that 59% of graduates are in non-graduate jobs. The unemployment rate for 16-24 year olds is 15.6% compared to a national rate of 5.5%. The future talent agenda has never been so relevant; spanning employability, recruitment, learning, development, social mobility, diversity and inclusion.
Three Hands is a small company that makes a big impact on business and communities. They match business needs with community benefits. Their activities are rooted in ‘giving back’ and philanthropy. Their projects help businesses develop current and future leaders, engage employees, build reputation and pursue sustainability. They believe that for businesses to be sustainable and successful in the long term, their people need to be invested in – as do the communities around them. Three Hands’ works to bring those two priorities together.
First we heard from RSA Insurance and Sky Academy on breaking down the barriers between business and young people. This involves a considerable amount of outreach to, and workshops in, schools. The objective is to explain the industries and inspire them to pursue careers in the respective industries. The perennial challenge in schools is not desire but an already packed agenda and curriculum.
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Several question were asked about how schemes ensure those who really need the support get it and how they choose schools to work with. There wasn’t systematic analysis of backgrounds, and schools were mainly chosen based on the involvement or interest of employees for RSA. Sky Academy has two Skills Studios, one in West London and one in Livingston in Central Scotland. Each has the capacity to host 12,000 young people a year.
Second up was Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), Coventry & Warwickshire YMCA and two participants of the TCS Tech Challenge. They discussed their experience working on the challenge which sees students from six UK universities consider how they can use the power of technology to address pressing needs that local charities are facing.
BNP Paribas talked about its own community work with new intakes and Vital Generation. Banking is an exclusive sector with the Sutton Trust reporting in 2014 that 34% of the sector’s recent intake and 51% of the sector’s leadership were privately educated compared to 7% of the overall population. BNP’s Hannah Dickinson touched on this briefly in trying to encourage her leadership team to think outside narrow definitions of what a ‘good’ candidate looks like.
Which in turn led into the open discussion session and a very useful segment of the day. Our group discussed social exclusion with differing views on affirmative action and the balance between corporate action and government regulation to address the issue. What was clear is the greater the interaction between leaders and potential recruits of different backgrounds the more able business will be to have a more representative and diverse workforce and break down unconscious bias – that your background, personal experiences, societal stereotypes and cultural context can have an impact on your decisions and actions without you realising.
Jan Levy, Managing Director of Three Hands said: “That 50 or so CSR and Learning & Development people from the corporate world came together for a half day to talk about ‘future talent’ is testament to the importance of this topic in business, whether that future talent consists of people already in their organisations or those whose careers have not started yet. What was clear was that when it comes to ways of attracting and developing ‘future talent’ there is a fine line between benefiting business and benefiting society; in fact, when done well, the two go hand in hand.”