By Simone Lockhart


I am fortunate to work with many forward-thinking companies that look at what they need in the future and plan for it today. This is not limited to one or two years but in some cases involves planning decades in advance for the skills requirements of generations to come.

Of course we don’t have a crystal ball to know exactly what the skills of the future will be, but we do know that certain industries and sectors have always been challenged. Looking ahead, we need to make sure our future talent is directed to where their careers could lie.

Working across all levels of education right back to primary school will help young people know what their world of work could look like. Starting with their hobbies and interests – cooking and baking, tech and gaming, creating and building – could lead to future chefs, developers, engineers, and architects.

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It sounds basic, but children are drawn to familiarities. For example we see many young people following in the footsteps of their parents or picking a career they regularly interact with, such as a teacher.

By engaging with children at an early age, as they head into high school they will have a better understanding of their future goals and can pick subjects that will shape those choices.

Many teenagers don’t know what they want to do when they leave school, so it is our responsibility as employers – along with teachers, parents and carers – to support them on their options and career pathways.

Great work is already being done such as by inviting parents in to talk about their careers, or the high school work experience programme supported by most schools – but I believe we can build on this and do more.

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Ask your local school how you can help, go into classes and tell them about your company, or alternatively invite groups of young people into the business so they can see first-hand how your staff operate.

Another opportunity would be to integrate locally with a programme of educational events or create a school leaver, apprenticeship or graduate programme. Letting young people earn while they learn could create an invaluable, loyal workforce of young and enthusiastic individuals who will be much more likely to view you favourably as an employer.

Many organisations already do this, but it tends to be the big corporates so there is definitely space for more local and regional businesses to get involved.

The business community engaging with young people is not new, but we need to be more strategic in thinking about how that might play into the future of the company, creating a workforce that will grow the organisation for generations to come.

Simone Lockhart, commercial director of Taranata Group, is a guest writer on behalf of s1jobs.