Is business doing enough to help people get into and get on in work?

Today’s society, like never before, throws up hugely daunting questions for young people starting out in their careers. Greater collaboration is needed between business and Government to ensure that support is offered not only by those in the business community but by those who shape young people’s career aspirations – teachers within schools, careers centres within universities and even parents who, despite their best intentions, can often provide advice that is both out of date and heavily biased.

Since becoming chair of the Women’s Business Council, which was set up to advise Government on the best ways to optimise women’s contribution to UK economic growth, I have been fortunate to discover a variety of the great number of programmes that businesses now offer in helping people get into and on in work. I’m delighted to report that many of these have clearly defined targets that deliver tangible results: these range from work experience placements and employer-aware events to flexible working programmes and career development initiatives.

Business can always do more

But I do think that business can always do more. Support for the young people of today, whether in education or the workplace, makes business sense not just on an individual firm by firm basis, but for the competitiveness of the UK economy as a whole. It is only in this way that we will maintain a strong talent pipeline and a global competitiveness that we all strive for.

Within Mitie, we offer several programmes to help people during these transition periods. Most notably, our Ready2Work programme gives unemployed people from Job Centre Plus an eight-week operational placement, which helps boost their employability and in over 70% of cases leads to an offer of full-time employment. Similarly, for those already at Mitie, our annual employee roadshows, regional forums and career development plans facilitate networking and help employees formulate clearly-defined career paths that accommodate their changing lifestyles.

One initiative that I am incredibly passionate about is Speakers for Schools, a charity providing state schools with talks from inspiring, industry-leading figures, for free. If every business leader in the UK encouraged all of their senior leaders to do something as simple as go and speak in a school for one hour a year, imagine the potential this would have to open the eyes of thousands of young people to the future opportunities that lie ahead of them. So let’s get moving.

Ruby joined Mitie in 2002 and was appointed as Chief Executive in 2007. Ruby holds a number of non-executive positions as well as being Chair of the CBI’s Public Services Strategy Board, Chair of the Women’s Business Council, and Business Ambassador for UK Trade and Investment.

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