Less privileged youngsters worried about career prospects following COVID-19

A social mobility charity has highlighted five areas for organisations to work on to recruit and retain young talent from less advantaged backgrounds

A majority of young people from less advantaged backgrounds, (89%) are concerned that COVID-19 has negatively impacted their career prospects; the data comes from social mobility charity The Brokerage.

Career concerns among disadvantaged youths

According to the survey, young people from less advantaged backgrounds have three main career concerns following the pandemic, these are: “not being able to access work opportunities, a lack of work experience opportunities and not getting the qualifications they need to achieve their career ambitions.”

The survey, that involved respondents aged between 16-25 where 55% were BAME, found that 50% have changed or expect to change their career plans following the pandemic, while 54% have changed or expect to change their education plans.

How to recruit and retain this talent pool

Respondents also said there are ways employers can help, these include offering paid internships and “short unpaid work experience placements” and professional mentorship.

The Brokerage, which works with finance, law, and professional services, wants to help young people from diverse socio-economic backgrounds in their careers by asking employers to create “100 paid City internships over summer 2021 for less-advantaged school leavers and undergraduates who have already been severely impacted by the cancellation of exams and other opportunities.”

Currently, City law firms Allen & Overy and Bois Schiller Flexner are offering internships.

The Brokerage has outlined five further objectives for employers to empower young people into secure careers; these include reviewing existing recruitment practices to “ensure early career opportunities are available to all less-advantaged young people,” providing “1,000 hours of volunteering to help young people develop their work-related skills and knowledge of the professional world,” collecting data and mapping out workplace inclusivity with a commitment to tracking it with clear KPIs, upskilling management to recruit and manage diverse talent, and working with other organisations to drive social mobility.

“These asks were developed in conjunction with a number of leading City businesses who partner with The Brokerage and have committed to implementing the majority of the asks within their own organisations. This includes leading financial services firms, Brewin Dolphin, Peel Hunt, Newton Investment Management and Fitch Group, law firms Allen & Overy and Bois Schiller Flexner and insurance firms, Hiscox, CFC Underwriting and McGill & Partners and City recruiters Phaidon International,” read a statement from a company spokesperson.

Katerina Rüdiger, Chief Executive Officer of The Brokerage said: “The past year has been testing for us all but the pressure on young people, having exams and career opportunities cancelled, is stark. For too long young people from less-advantaged backgrounds have faced extra challenges when trying to access high-level professional careers and those from ethnic minorities face double the challenges. We know that many of the young people we work with are talented, capable, and an asset to any employer. And, that firms that embrace diverse talent often reap the rewards in terms of productivity and creativity. We cannot have a situation where once again an economic crisis deepens long-term divides in society which is why we are calling on responsible businesses to open their doors now before it’s too late and a whole generation is shut out for good.

“In our Opening Doors 2021 manifesto The Brokerage, supported by our corporate partners, has outlined six core asks for businesses that we know work in terms of promoting inclusivity. Employers that commit to these asks will not only be helping less-disadvantaged young people but also making their businesses fairer and more inclusive as we strive towards recovering from this crisis.”

Caroline Lake, Head of Diversity, Inclusion and Wellbeing at Brewin Dolphin, an investment management company and corporate partner of The Brokerage added: “At Brewin Dolphin we are striving to create a workplace that is welcoming and inclusive. We’ve worked closely with The Brokerage over the last year and we have seen how the young people they work with are talented and have the potential to add real value to any business. As we work towards recovery from the pandemic it is vital that businesses take steps to ensure that less-advantaged young people are not left behind.”

Moving forward, firms that intentionally recruit socially diverse youth for paid internships and mentorship opportunities could find they’ve built a pipeline of readymade and upskilled talent which is diverse in terms of class, ethnicity, and race, and will bring into any business different perspectives that aid innovation.

To find out more about The Brokerage, please click here.

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