Developing Business Skills in Young Recruits

Do you find yourself grumbling about the fact that the young people you recruit (whether a school leaver or a young graduate) are simply not prepared for the work place? If so, then you are not alone!

In a recent survey by the British Chambers of Commerce 88% of businesses reported that school leavers were unprepared for the workplace and 54% of them said that graduates were not prepared either! The main issues were a lack of “soft skills”, such as communication and team working.

It’s all too easy for business to place the blame on schools, colleges and government policy, but as John Longworth said when he was Director-General of the BCC: “It is a joint responsibility between businesses, educators and government.”

There is a limit to what schools and colleges can do to prepare young people for work. The employability skills they learn at school and college are mostly learned implicitly. For example team working skills are developed on the sports field; leadership skills by being made head of a university club or society; time-keeping skills are practiced every time an essay is due in, and communication skills every time they participate in a group discussion or debate. But these skills are not explicitly developed.

There is a well-known learning model called 70:20:10 model. This model states that 70% of what we learn is learned and developed through experience; 20% from colleagues and mentors and just 10% in formal education. The implications are that young employees need to deliberately practice and hone their business skills in the work place.

It is, therefore, the employer’s job (and this usually falls to their line manager) to take up the baton from the educators and develop the skills the business needs in their young recruits. In particular they should focus on developing the skills of:

• Personal time management
• Interpersonal behaviour (emotional intelligence)
• Communication skills (both written and oral)
• Team working
• Problem solving
• Management and Leadership
• Industry intelligence
• Customer care/relationships
• Financial acumen

The best way to do this is to set up a programme similar to a graduate development programme, through which all young recruits are taken. This helps them to learn, understand and apply/practice the skills needed.

The daily practice of what has been learned means that in a relatively short period of time they will become proficient, productive and professional employees.

If you don’t have the resources, expertise or space to provide the formal components of essential business skills development for your young employees, then this can be outsourced. Spearhead have a range of open business skills courses that are ideal for developing your young recruits.