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Provide more work experience for young people, urges AGR chief

Thu, 3 Mar 2016

The chief executive of the Association of Graduate Recruiters (AGR) has urged employers to provide more work experience for young people. 

Speaking to Recruiter at the AGR’s Development Conference in London yesterday, Stephen Isherwood said that both young people and those companies who provide work experience stand to benefit. 

“If employers aren’t providing work experience for school leavers and internships, then we are not giving them the experience to make the transition into the world of work,” said Isherwood. The difficulty of young people making the transition from education into work was a recurring theme of the conference, with speakers and delegates claiming that the education failed to prepare then adequately.

From the floor one delegate told the conference that because young people spend so much time online and on their smartphones, they found face-to-face communication and conversation “a struggle”.

Isherwood cited new research, released at the conference yesterday, showing that graduate recruits who had previously been interns in a company stayed slightly longer than those who hadn’t been interns. Based on responses by 25 AGR members, graduates who had been interns stayed with the company for an average of five years compared to four and a half years for non-interns.

Chloe Combi, author of Generation Z: Their Voices, Their Lives, reiterated the need for more and better work experience, describing the state of work experience in the UK as “hit and miss” and the UK’s attitude to work experience as “appalling”. 

“Gen Z [born between 1994 and 2005] have zero work experience – no experience except the classroom. If we had a better attitude to work experience, it could have a massive difference on young people’s effectiveness in the workplace,” Combi told the audience during her presentation. 

The AGR survey also identified big variations in tenure between sectors. Graduates in energy, water or utility companies stayed the longest (5.6 years) followed by IT and telecommunications (4.7 years). Retail graduates had the itchiest feet, staying with their employer for 3.5 years, with graduates in law firms remaining in post for an average of four years. 

The survey of 191 employers, employing 3m people, also revealed the main reasons why graduates leave their employer:

• 65.9% for a higher salary

• 50.0% unmet expectations of career progression 

• 45.1% a desire for career change

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