Supporting the Next Generation of Talent
“Liminality should not be underestimated - you will always remember that person who helped you to belong somewhere. Navigating these in-between phases well will help build a strong affinity with next-generation talent. Organisations must prioritise building connections across time and space with their young people as they emerge from COVID-19 restrictions.”
COVID-19 has had a devastating impact on the next generation of talent. According to the latest youth unemployment statistics1, in July-September 2020, youth unemployment hit a record high of 15% above pre-pandemic levels. While this year the number of 16-24-year-olds who are economically inactive (not in or looking for work) has increased by 259,000 to 2.82 million.
The pandemic has highlighted and perhaps reinforced barriers, prejudice and inequality; coming of age in the COVID-era has been an isolating and unsettling experience. Rather than embarking on their early careers with hands-on support from colleagues, many young people have forfeited opportunities, worked in cramped flatshares vying for Wi-Fi or been left on furlough, fearful for what the long term future holds. Margaret McDonagh, Founder of The Pipeline, says, “Businesses have never been further away from the next generation of talent. If you can’t succeed with the current generation of talent, the next generation will know this.”
Prior to lockdown, a majority of professional development happened by osmosis - watching others on the job. Opportunities to pick things up naturally have been non-existent and will still be a real challenge under a hybrid model. What does that mean for communication and training in the future? “A question in the office can be asked casually, but in a hybrid workplace, employees will need to be more proactive, and this makes them more vulnerable. The next generation must have a voice, and leaders should anticipate these questions,” says Khairunnisa Mohamedali, Director and Chief Innovation Officer at The Smarty Train.
The London Work, Travel, Convene Coalition has spent many hours considering how COVID-19 has been a catalyst for change. Now it is time for practical self-reflection so organisations can understand early career needs. How can they support a generation that deserves time to flourish with the space and encouragement to realise its full potential?
“We need to be intentional about learning. Employees learn so much by listening, so leaders need to invite people in.”
Katherine Conway, Head of Diversity & Inclusion & Community at Aon