8 February 2018 | By James Ashall, Community

Make a difference, join Movement to Work

There are 850,000 unfilled vacancies in the UK economy. It’s time we got better at matching them with untapped potential of young talent

If you’re reading CBI Business Voice the chances are that, like me, you’ve got a job. Who knows, you might even enjoy it… most of the time at least.

Until recently my job was leading a team at Diageo, responsible for spotting global trends in what people will be drinking in the future and investing in small start-up brands with big growth potential. I really loved that job. It was challenging, interesting, exciting. A dream job in many ways.

But when Diageo chief executive Ivan Menezes asked me to take on a two-year secondment running Movement to Work it made me stop and think about my own job and more importantly about what work – or more importantly the lack of work – means for hundreds of thousands of young unemployed people in the UK.

Creating opportunities

Movement to Work exists to create opportunities for young unemployed people to get into work – targeting the young people who fall between the cracks of the established education and skills systems. It’s a voluntary coalition of the UK’s most progressive companies – members include the likes of Accenture, BAE Systems, BT, Centrica, Diageo and M&S – that are committed to tackling youth unemployment by offering quality work placements.

And it has achieved a lot since launching in 2014. More than 250 companies have contributed, delivering more than 67,000 work placements with 54 per cent of those young people going on to jobs of further training. Tens of thousands of young lives have been positively transformed by the efforts of Movement to Work employers.

Along with the other members, Diageo is committed to this agenda as a company and Ivan has shown his personal leadership by taking over as chairman of the Movement last year.

So, I’ve left behind the future of drinks and for the next two years at least I will be focusing on the future job prospects of the 790,000 young people in the UK who are not in education, employment or training. Instead of investing in untapped brands with great potential I’ll be investing all my energy in creating future growth opportunities for young people.

It’s a massive task, but I’ve never felt so excited and motivated by a challenge. Partly this is a personal sense of purpose, driven by the once in a lifetime opportunity to make a real and meaningful difference. But I’ve also been inspired by the commitment of the companies involved in the Movement.

Simply good business

The businesses involved are by their nature among the most progressive employers in the UK, with a clear understanding of the need to contribute positively to the overall health of their communities.

This is driven by the desire to do the right thing but it is also simply good business. The latest employment statistics showed there are 850,000 unfilled vacancies in the economy. Well, there is also an untapped pool of young talent out there if they can be engaged and nurtured in the right way.

Work placements can be the first step in the recruitment process providing an organisation with fresh talent and providing young people with a route map into work and with time and investment a fulfilling career, driving upward social mobility.

As diversity becomes ever more important in business, it can also form the foundations of a truly inclusive workforce reflecting and representing the society of which a company is a part.

As departure from the EU inches closer and the labour market challenges become ever more apparent we have a powerful opportunity to match those 790,000 young people with jobs.

Of course, that makes it sound easy and the reality is much more complex with demand and supply never aligning easily because of sectoral, geographical and societal divergences.

But as employers, the one thing that is easily in our grasp is to offer more work placement opportunities to young unemployed people. Movement to work exists to help companies navigate this complexity.

So, for the future of your business and the future of disenfranchised young people please come and join the Movement and be part of a progressive solution to one of the great challenges of our society.

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