Susie Logan reports on how Standard Life and The Prince’s Trust got to play matchmaker for a day.
All businesses need to recruit well. Finding and retaining the best people can make a huge difference to a business’s long-term success. New employees must have the right skills, of course, but less tangible, personal qualities are also important – especially for smaller organisations.
On the other side of the equation, the UK has more than 600,000 unemployed young people*, many of whom are looking for an employer with whom they can launch their careers. If they can only find the right ‘fit’, they can develop their potential in a supportive and mutually beneficially environment.
Getting in touch
So you have two large groups of people, and each of them needs the other. But for any given person in one group, only a small number of people in the other will be ideal. Does that sound a bit like dating to you? It did to us here at Standard Life.
So we decided to adapt an idea from the dating world to tackle a commercial problem. For the past 2 years, we’ve been working closely with The Prince’s Trust on a series of “Get Hired” speed networking events, and the latest one was held in London on 19 April, during Responsible Business Week. The Standard Life Charitable Trust has been funding the project, with The Prince’s Trust delivering the sessions, bringing together young people from the Trust’s programmes and local SMEs who are looking for new recruits.
Making the first move
We felt that simply launching the candidates into the fray would be a bit harsh, so we started by giving them some interview practice to help them build their confidence. Each of them took part in a series of 5-minute interviews with the SME employers, in which they could discuss opportunities, sell their skills and promote their CV. Meanwhile, the employers were able to assess the candidate’s abilities and get a feel for whether they would fit in at their business.
Igniting the passion
Our hope was that exposing the young people to a large number of companies in a short time would maximise their chances of finding a job. And not just any job, but one which they were passionate about, with an employer who was excited by their potential and wanted to help them grow with the business. At the very least, it would give them a lot of useful experience and perspective, which would be invaluable to them in their future efforts.
Happy ever after?
The early signs are that it has done exactly that. Many of the young people told us that they found the experience challenging but very rewarding, such as Ghirmai, aged 22, who said: “It has been a real eye-opener. Before this I felt I couldn’t achieve anything in my life but Get Hired has taught me that I can do it and that I will be successful. You get out what you put in.”
19-year-old Nadine felt energised too: “It’s been such an exhilarating experience, and with each interview I’ve grown in confidence.” While Lucy, 25, felt that she had learned a lot: “I found the interview practice extremely insightful. It really helped me to focus on my skills – not only from previous work experience, but also life experience. I feel so much more confident going into interviews now.”
That’s just 3 of more than 600 young people who’ve benefitted from the events – and almost 200 of them have now secured a real-world job. And given they didn’t necessarily have the experience or traditional qualifications that many employers expect, it’s a story with a very happy ending.
The Standard Life Charitable Trust continues to fund the programme, and we’re thrilled that other UK cities might be taking part in 2016, as the Prince’s Trust is now planning to run Get Hired events across the UK.
Would your business benefit from being involved? If you think it might, get in touch with us below, and we’ll give you the latest details.
*Source: House of Commons Library: Youth Unemployment Statistics: March 2016. 630,000 young people aged 16-24 were unemployed in November-January 2016.