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Business ready to help young people

Almost every week since the announcement of the full lockdown back in March, a group of the Chamber’s members have met to advise on the business impact.

Involving around 60 businesses, the Glasgow Business Resilience Council has guided the Chamber on the most important issues. The challenge for young people leaving education this summer has been chief amongst these conversations. There is no getting away from the fact that the availability of jobs for new entrants is much reduced this year.

In the July British Chambers of Commerce Coronavirus Impact Tracker survey, a third of the businesses involved said they intended to make redundancies in the next three months, just as university and college graduates and school leavers are beginning to look for jobs. As the economy only gradually reopens and the job retention scheme begins to wind down, the pressures on businesses to reduce their staffing are obvious.

This week the #NoWrongPath campaign is running for its fourth year. Originally created and launched in 2017 by Developing the Young Workforce (DYW) Glasgow, hosted by Glasgow Chamber of Commerce, the national social media campaign is designed to reassure school pupils receiving their exam results that there are multiple routes into a successful career. For those disappointed with their results, #NoWrongPath – which has generated nearly 57 million impressions over the last three years – hopes to show that many people in interesting job roles and in senior positions didn’t always get there by conventional routes.

Parity of esteem between university degrees, college qualifications and industry apprenticeships is the fundamental premise of #NoWrongPath and the campaign simply asks successful people to hold up a card in a picture showing what their educational path to fulfilment has been. Tripping up in the earliest stages of a career is not the end of all hope. It may just take you in an even more productive direction.

That message will have even more resonance this year. Education has been disrupted, examinations affected and the jobs market will be the toughest we have seen in decades. Our own experience is that whilst many employers are honest in their expectations of the number of jobs they expect to support, there is a genuine willingness to do whatever they can to help new entrants overcome the obstacles they will face. Many of our larger company members are, for example, offering help with CV preparation or mock interviews and have long been supporters of the Glasgow Employer Board exploring the actions businesses can take to improve opportunities for young people.

The Scottish Government is emphasising its promise of a jobs guarantee to young people and the DYW initiative is tasked with delivering that promise. I would urge the government to focus on regional rather than national delivery. That was one of the conclusions from the Glasgow Economic Recovery Group in its action plan recommendations last month.

The Glasgow regional labour market is highly self-contained and there is long experience in joint working between business, academia and government at both the city and the wider regional level. Avoid the temptation to impose a rigidly controlled national structure and allow the local Developing the Young Workforce teams to exploit the business relationships they have built up over the past five years.

That is not to suggest that delivering on a jobs guarantee will be straightforward. The bedrock of SME business is under pressure as never before and we already know that before the crisis it was such companies that were providing the majority of new jobs.
The business community is nevertheless ready and willing to help as much as it can.