Jill Coyne, Acas Senior Guidance Manager discusses how important it is for employers to think about their employment of younger workers.

Jill Coyne

Jill Coyne joined Acas in 2004 and worked as an Equality and Diversity Adviser with employers in the North West of England, before moving into a number of policy roles.

Jill is currently the Senior Guidance Manager and is part of the team that produces web based advice and support for employers, employees and their representatives.

The last few years have seen an increasing focus on getting Younger Workers in to employment and how best to support and retain them once employed. But why is there such a focus now on younger people in the workplace? And why is it important for employers to think about their employment of younger workers?

First of all what is a Younger Worker? Not long ago, many employers would simply consider a younger worker as being someone aged between 16-18 years old. This is the age when many would start their working life. It is also an age that receives special protection under Health and Safety and Working Time Regulations. However, with younger people in general staying in education for longer and the youth unemployment problems currently facing the UK, many employers have found that a person's first experience of work is often coming later in their life. It has therefore become common for many employers to refer to anyone aged 24 or under as a Younger Worker.

Obviously employing Younger Workers is nothing new. Businesses have always needed to recruit younger people into their workplace to replace the older workers who leave. However, employers are experiencing new challenges when employing younger workers.

With the removal of the statutory retirement age, an employer's employee turnover has changed also. It is becoming increasingly common for older workers to work longer than they previously did due to financial considerations, longer life expectancies and/or greater flexible working options being made available. It naturally flows that fewer roles therefore become vacant to allow younger workers to enter the workplace, or progress through an organisation. Employers should be aware of these issues and have succession planning on their agendas to consider how they can ensure they continue to have an age diverse workforce and gain the benefits that this can bring.

When recruiting younger workers many employers have legitimate concerns about the transition from education to employment and how they should support a Younger Worker to ensure they become a skilled and valued member of the workforce. This can be complex for all involved and both employers and younger workers themselves have responsibilities to ensure this transition is as smooth as possible.

A further challenge that employer are facing is that younger workers are part of a generation that have grown up in a social media age. This has influenced and changed how people communicate, learn and share information. Employers need to understand this and consider how to best to integrate younger workers within their workforce.

At Acas we want to ensure that age diverse workforces work effectively together and are managed properly so we have produced a range of guidance products for both younger workers and the managers of younger workers.

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