7. Employer Perspective
This chapter looks at the recruitment of young people from the employers' perspective.
A key publication looking at this is the Employer Perspectives Survey (EPS), a bi-annual publication that investigates employers' approaches to recruitment and training. We will here focus on the latest publication of this report, published in 2019, and comparisons will also be made to the earlier publications in 2014 and 2016.
It is important to note that some of the questions asked in the survey, and covered in this chapter (i.e. recruitment directly from education, recruitment of apprentices and work experience/inspiration activity offering), do not explicitly focus on young people, however it is reasonable to assume that young people will have a significant presence in these areas.
Trends in the recruitment of young people
According to the 2019 EPS, three out of five employers (60%) who had recruited in the year preceding the survey had recruited a young person aged under 25, a decrease compared to 2016 when 64% of those who had recruited had recruited a young person.
Employers were almost twice as likely to have recruited at least one young person aged between 19 and 24 (50% had done so) than to have recruited at least one 16 to 18 year old (28%). This is consistent with previous years, although the proportion of recruiting those aged 19 to 24 has decreased by 6 pp since the 2016 survey.
The decreases in recruitment of young people are reported to be greatest amongst the public sector and the Construction sector. Employers in the Hotels and Restaurant and Primary and Utilities sectors, on the other hand, were particularly likely to have recruited a young person. The Hotel and Restaurant sector is particularly likely to recruit both those aged 16 to 18 (41% compared to 28% overall) and those aged 19 to 24 (67% compared to 50% overall).
Source: Scottish Government (2019), 'Scottish Employer Perspectives Survey 2019: research report'.
Based on the 2019 survey, large companies are more likely to have recruited a young person, with 88% of those with 100+ employees having done so in the 12 months preceding the 2019 survey. Compared to the 2016 survey, there has been a drop in smaller employers recruiting young people. In 2016, 48% of those with between 2-4 employees had recruited a young person compared to 42% in 2019. Similarly, amongst those with 5-9 employees there was a decrease from 61% in 2016 to 53% in 2019, with particularly steep decrease in recruitment of 19 to 24 year olds, from 50% to 38%.
Source: Scottish Government (2019), 'Scottish Employer Perspectives Survey 2019: research report'.
According to the survey, when young people are recruited it was typically to fill 'lower level' roles. Around three-fifths (59%) of employers who recruited a young person within the year preceding the 2019 survey hired them for a relatively low skilled occupational area; 28% elementary, 14% caring, leisure and other service, 13% sales and customer service, 4% process, plant and machine operatives.
Smaller employers were particularly likely to have recruited for an elementary occupation (43% of those with 2-4 employees compared to 17% of those with 100 employees or more).
One in ten employers (10%) who recruited a young person in the last year placed their most recent young recruit in a skilled trade occupation and around the same proportion (9%) in an administrative or secretarial occupation.
In total only 13% of employers who recruited a young person hired their most recent young worker for a relatively high skilled role; 8% associated professional and technical, 4% professional and 1% as a manager, director or senior official.
It is important to note that there is considerable variation by sector, reflecting occupational structures. For example, employers in the Education sector were particularly likely to have hired a young person for a professional role, Business Services employers to administrative or secretarial roles and construction sector for skilled trade roles.
Proportion of employers recruit directly from education
To further understand employers' experience of recruiting young people, the EPS also investigates the proportion of employers who have taken on an education leaver. However, it is important to note that while these results are likely to include a large proportion of young people, they do not directly refer to the young people cohort aged 16 to 24.
In 2019, 30% of employers had recruited an employee to their first job after leaving school, college or university. This is a reduction from 32% reported in 2016 and 2014.
Breaking this measure down further, 20% of employers had recruited directly from a Scottish secondary school and 12% had recruited from a Scottish college in the year before the 2019 survey. There has been very little change for these figures since 2014 and 2016.
However, there has been a drop in university recruitment, with 11% of employers having recruited from a Scottish university in 2019, a decrease from 2014 (13%) and 2016 (14%). This reduction was driven by a decrease in recruitment of university leavers amongst employers in the Arts, Public Administration, Business Services, Manufacturing, and Hotels and Restaurants sectors, as well as those employers who are smaller (under 50 employees).
Source: Scottish Government (2019), 'Scottish Employer Perspectives Survey: 2019'.
Proportion of employers recruit Apprentices
At the time of the 2019 survey, 16% of employers were offering apprenticeships or had at least one apprentice, unchanged from the proportion of employers offering apprenticeships in 2016 (15%), however higher than in 2014 (12%).
|Offer apprenticeships and have at least one apprentice||9||10||11|
|Offering apprenticeships but have no apprentices at the moment||3||5||5|
|Total % offering apprenticeships||12||15||16|
Sources: Scottish Government (2019), 'Scottish Employer Perspectives Survey 2019: research report', UK Government (2017), 'Employer perspectives survey 2016' and UK Government (2015), 'Employer Perspectives Survey 2014: Scotland data'.
Large employers were more likely than smaller ones to offer apprenticeships, ranging from 8% of employers with 2-4 staff to 56% among those with 100+ staff. By sector, the offering of apprenticeships was most common in the Education and Construction sectors (32% and 28% respectively).
Among employers offering apprenticeships, 90% offered them to people aged under 25 years and 44% offered apprenticeships only to young people. Offering apprenticeships to young people was fairly uniform across size, sector and region and is in line with the 2016 survey results.
Among those employers who have engaged with their local DYW Lead or Regional Group, this increases to 98% of those offering an apprenticeship having offered these to young people.
Since 2016, however, overall the proportion of employers offering apprenticeships only to young people has decreased from 52% to 44%. This decrease was particularly pronounced in the Manufacturing (63% to 32%) and Public Administration (48% to 22%) sectors.
Among employers offering apprenticeships, 43% only offered them to new employees recruited specifically as apprentices, 7% only offered them to existing employees and 46% offered them to a combination of both new recruits and existing employees. This has not changed significantly since the last EPS in 2016.
Proportion of employers offer work experience and work inspiration activities
The EPS highlights the positive impact on employment that work placements afford young people, the unemployed and graduates and has included a chapter on the support offered to individuals to enter work, including work placements and work inspiration activities.
Based on the 2019 survey, work experience placements (including education placements, broad adult placements and internships) were provided by 36% of employers ( a drop compared to 39% in 2016), and work inspiration activities by 15% (an increase from 13% in 2016). The smallest employers were half as likely as those with five or more employees to provide work placements, the majority of employers with at least 10 employees did provide work experience.
In total, employers offering work placements each took an average of just over 6.2 individuals on to a placement in the 12 months before the 2019 survey, and increase from an average of just over 5 individuals per establishment in 2016. Therefore, although the proportion of employers offering placements in Scotland has decreased, those who do are offering to more individuals. Almost 333,000 placements were offered to individuals by employers, an increase of 6% from just under 315,000 in 2016
The most common form of work placement provided was an education placement, provided by 28% of employers, which is broadly in line with 2014 and 2016 results (28% and 30% respectively). 20% of employers had provided a placement for people at school; 12% for those at college; and 11% for those at university.
Broader, adult work placements were provided by 12% of employers, most commonly in the form of work trials for potential new recruits (9% of employers) but also placements to give work experience to the unemployed (4%). Internships (paid or unpaid) were provided by 5% of employers – a slight but considerable decrease from the 7% who did so in 2016.
|Total Education Placements||28||30||28|
|- Placements for school students||20||21||20|
|- Placements for college students||11||10||12|
|- Placements for university students||11||13||11|
|Broad Adult Placements||-||15||12|
Sources: Scottish Government (2019), 'Scottish Employer Perspectives Survey 2019: research report' and UK Government (2015), 'Employer Perspectives Survey 2014: Scotland data'.
The likelihood of having provided any form of work experience increases steadily with size, from 23% of those with 2-4 employees, to 78% among those with 100+ employees.
A third (34%) of employers who provided work placements had gone on to recruit the trainee into a permanent or long-term paid role, similar to the 31% who had done so in 2016. In most cases this was directly following their placement (25%), though 10% hired them upon completion of their course.
Work placements for those at university or college were more likely to lead to permanent employment than for those who were still at school (24% and 23% compared to 14%).
Overall, 15% of employers had engaged with schools, colleges or universities during the 12 months preceding the study to provide 'work inspiration' activities for students in addition to or instead of providing work placements. This may have involved hosting site visits for students, talking to them about careers, or conducting activities such as mock interviews to improve their employability.
Establishments that were aware of DYW Regional Groups were considerably more likely to have provided work inspiration activities than those who were unaware (33% compared to 12% respectively).
Combining the provision of work experience and work inspiration, some form of work experience and work inspiration was offered by 40% of employers in the year preceding the 2019 survey. Nearly all larger employers offered either work experience or work inspiration (87% of those with 100+ employees), as did a large majority of those in the Education sector (86%).
Three in five (60%) of all employers offered neither work experience of work inspiration. This increases to three-quarters (74%) of those with 2-4 employees, 78% of those in the Construction sector and 79% of those that do not offer any training.
The survey also asked about what the barriers were to offering work-related experience from those who did not provide any work placement/internship programmes. Structural issues were the most common barrier, raised by 68% of establishments. Within this group, 38% thought they had no suitable roles and 20% did not have time or resources.
The EPS report highlights a clear opportunity for expanding the number of employers offering work placements, with one in five (21%) employers unaware of what they might be able to offer. This includes 16% that had not been approached about providing work experience or work inspiration activities, and 5% had simply never considered it. A lack of awareness is particularly likely amongst establishments with between five and 24 employees, and it is less likely that those in this size band have made an active choice not to provide work experience.
Proportion of employers were aware of and engaged with their DYW Regional Group
In the 2019 survey, 14% of all employers were aware of the DWY Regional Group and 19% of those who had heard of the Groups had engaged with them over the past 12 months by offering work-related experience to school/college students, equating to 3% of all employers.
Of employers with 2-4 employees, 11% were aware of their DYW Regional Group rising to 37% of those with 100+ employees. Larger employers were also more likely to have engaged with a DYW Regional Group.
Awareness levels are twice as high amongst employers who provided work experience (20% compared to 10% of those who did not), and around three times as high amongst those who provide 'work inspiration' activities for students (e.g. site visits or careers talks). Again, these employers were more likely to have gone on to engage with a DYW Regional Group.
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