Whitbread: School leavers — let’s support them better

Last week, Whitbread released a study of school leavers in the UK. I was really heartened by what it found because there are some very positive trends in the way that school leavers are planning their careers.

They are taking time to research and adopting a long-term view, with 81% saying they had given considerable thought to their future career and as many as 59% thinking four or more years ahead. They are also eager for progression and promotion – 58% say that having a future management role is important to them and 86% stating they would be more likely to work for an employer who could set out a clear path of career progression. Nine out of ten school leavers said that they are willing to take on further study or training while in work to help them get ahead.

“It’s time for businesses to step up and invest much more time and effort in reaching out to school leavers.”

For me, this paints a picture of an ambitious and diligent generation with tremendous potential and opportunity. After all, these are the people who are going to grow, manage and lead our companies in the future.

But what also comes out of this study loud and clear is that businesses have got to do more to support them as they transition to the workplace. Only 31% of school leavers said they have received jobs or careers advice from employers, however, of those who did, 90% said it was a useful source of information. So there is clearly an important role for businesses to play in helping them to understand the world of work and the options available.

So it’s time for businesses to step up and invest much more time and effort in reaching out to school leavers.

“Last year we gave 1,300 people the chance to manage one of our hotels, restaurants or coffee shops and 600 of those people are managing their own business for the first time”

Whitbread knows this all too well. We employ thousands of young people straight out of school or college. Our work experience programmes and engagement with schools are critical to making sure we can attract the people we need to build our business as we grow. We are passionate about giving them the training and the opportunities to build their careers with us. Last year we gave 1,300 people the chance to manage one of our hotels, restaurants or coffee shops and 600 of those people are managing their own business for the first time.

This is a pool of future talent that we should be embracing before they even enter the workplace, helping them to fulfil their ambitions and developing the leaders we need to deliver our future success. Let’s support them better.


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