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30 April 2018 Community

Unlocking the potential of our future workforce

One year into his Chairmanship of Movement to Work, Ivan Menezes reflects on why helping young people is the right thing for your business

It is a year in May since I took up the Chairmanship of Movement to Work and I’m delighted to celebrate that anniversary by joining forces with the CBI to promote greater diversity in the workplace at its Diversity in the Workplace conference.

The most rewarding experience of the past year has undoubtedly been meeting the young people who have gone through Movement to Work placements. I've seen the positive impact a work placement can have on their confidence and prospects.

It has also been inspiring to see how the businesses involved in Movement to Work are benefiting directly from increasing the diversity of their recruitment by offering opportunities to young unemployed people.

Too often young people are given the pejorative tag of being NEET (not in employment, education or training) and simply written off. It is incredible that in a time of virtual full employment in the economy there are still 790,000 people between the age of 16 and 24 in that category. At Movement to Work we’re not willing to accept that. We believe in the potential of all young people and we are committed to unlocking it by offering quality work placement opportunities.

At the core of our purpose is that this is not just the right thing to do for young people, it is the right thing to do for your business.

A positive impact

There is plenty of research and evidence to prove that diversity in the workplace has a positive impact on performance. In 2017 research published by Harvard Business Review showed that cognitively diverse teams solve problems faster than those where people share similar mindsets. A 2013 report by Deloitte found that when employees ‘think their organisation is committed to and supportive of diversity, and they feel included’, their ability to innovate increases by 83 per cent.

Through Movement to Work I have been lucky enough to see this brought to life directly in the experience of young people and member companies.

I recently met with a wonderful young woman, Jordyn Macdonald, an 18-year-old from Edinburgh who had been unemployed and uncertain about her future until she did a Movement to Work placement with one of our members, Centrica.

Jordyn thrived in the work placement and was then accepted on to a full apprenticeship at Centrica’s Scottish Gas customer service centre in Edinburgh. She gave a truly inspiring account of how she had overcome challenges, grown in confidence and how passionate she was about her job. And more than that, her line manager, who leads a team of 11 apprentices from a wide diversity of backgrounds, explained how that team was excelling in all key customer service metrics, delivering benchmark performance for the company.

It was a great example of how bringing diverse young people into your business and giving them the support and training they need to unlock their potential can drive positive business improvement.

So, one year into my Chairmanship of Movement to Work I have seen the power of what we can achieve and I know we can go further, faster, and help many tens of thousands more young people.

To do that we need more companies to get involved and I encourage all CBI members to join Movement to Work and to offer opportunities to young people from all walks of life. It is the right thing for young people and it is the right thing for your business.

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