As a forward-thinking HR professional, you’re probably already aware of the importance of recruiting young people to your workforce.

If you’re in any doubt, research recently undertaken by Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development (ATEED), substantiates this and states, “Auckland’s relatively youthful and highly skilled population is forecast to increase from its current 1.65m, to over two million residents, by 2031. The working age population will increase by over 65 per cent (to 1.96m people) over this period.

“…Auckland’s people will continue to be its greatest asset. Continuing to develop and invest in Auckland’s future workforce is a clear priority for inclusive economic prosperity.”

With further data suggesting that 200,000 jobs will be created in Auckland by 2029, if you’re not currently investing in youth employment, then you may be facing a workforce shortage sooner than you think.

Productivity growth and new perspectives

Besides boosting Auckland’s productivity and making sure industry and businesses continue to operate, there are several other reasons why the city’s employers should be hiring young people. While it’s a way to tap into talent in the region, it is important to bring fresh perspectives and new ideas into organisations. 

Often technologically and digitally savvy, young people have a lot to offer employers, with many developing soft skills like agility, resilience and creativity, enabling them to approach problem solving in new ways. Another positive is that by increasing workforce diversity, companies can create better customer connections.

There’s also help at hand from the government, with assistance when it comes to training and developing young people in employment. This includes the government’s industry training contribution of around $200 million to support in-work training.

Additional financial support includes:

  • Wage subsidies
  • Assistance with training costs
  • Fee-free recruitment services
  • Tuition subsidies (for young people enrolled at a tertiary education provider)
  • A contribution to industry training
  • Some funding which can be paid directly to employers e.g. Training Direct Funding scheme

For more information on subsidies and funding, visit Employment New Zealand.

Reach out to young talent

It’s essential to understand which communication channels reach younger talent, given the days of job vacancy ads in your local newspaper are gone. Employers need to find out what motivates young people, and crucially, how to connect with them. You’ll no doubt already be aware that this might challenge the conventional CV content that has historically been used to select a candidate for an interview.

An excellent example of how to engage and communicate with younger people has been developed by Fletcher Building. Switch Up aims to help young people transition from school or unemployment to the workforce, and was created with the help of high school students.

At the launch of the digital platform in 2017, Chief People and Communications Officer Claire Carroll said, “We ask potential recruits activity-based questions such as what would you do if you saw an upset colleague, or what would you do if a customer comes in to collect an order, but they can’t remember the details? There are no wordy job descriptions, instead we have videos of current young employees, their tasks, and their daily lives on the job. By showing, rather than telling what a job looks like, young people will be able to visualise their future career and be excited about it.”

Realising that traditional recruitment processes can be a barrier to young people, Fletcher Building created Switch Up to attract talent who are new to the job market, and might not have the writing skills and practice at applying for jobs.

To apply for a job applicants simply fill in a ‘Facebook-like’ profile that takes less than six minutes to complete. Successful applicants participate in a six-month learning and development programme, which includes work and life skills such as budgeting, time management, and goal setting.

Another employer investing in the youth space is The Warehouse. Since its inception three years ago, the Red Shirts in Community programme has seen about 1100 young people who were not in employment, education or training pass through its doors. The initiative gives participants training in customer service, communication skills, personal presentation, stock management and basic health and safety.

The programme also includes information on writing a CV and preparing for an interview, with pastoral care from a mentor, while offering credits towards NCEA Levels 1 and 2. In the last pilot, The Warehouse says that 70 per cent of graduates found work.

ATEED’s own innovative Go with Tourism platform allows young job seekers to take a quiz and build a social profile rather than submit a CV. It recently received $5.2 million government funding to be rolled out as part of a national programme to build the tourism workforce.

Make a digital connection

If you’ve nailed it when it comes to recruiting young people, then well done on future-proofing your workforce. For those who are finding this a challenge, take a look at our top tips to give yourself the best chance of finding the right young people for your organisation:

  • Use social media platforms to connect with and cultivate your prospects.
  • Make the application process as simple as possible.
  • Consider a digital platform to recruit, you are, after all, conversing with digital natives.
  • If the applicant doesn’t have any work experience on their CV, look for skills they do have – if for example, they regularly take Sunday school lessons at their local church, consider the skills they must have to do this every week.
  • Don’t be afraid to involve the applicant’s whānau or local community in the process. Many Māori and Pacific young people rely on guidance and advice from their elders.
  • Provide mentorship – you may find young people respond better in a group with a mentor rather than one-on-one.
  • Whenever possible, give feedback to successful and unsuccessful candidates. Your honesty and reflections should help them to learn and gain advantage for their next opportunity.
  • Be open-minded, don’t compare your 20-year old self with the 20-year old sitting opposite you. The world is a different place, and things have moved on.

If you’d like to find out more about employing young people and want to be involved with like-minded businesses investing in Auckland’s young people, consider becoming part of ATEED’s Youth Employer Pledge programme.

Tāmaki Makaurau is becoming future ready.

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