5 reasons why youth workers are your best asset in the post-COVID landscape
April 27, 2020
It has become abundantly clear that we are facing the most challenging economic moment of the millenium.
COVID-19 has hit the pause button on our social relationships and it has halted many activities people typically enjoy beyond their doors. This has resulted in a domino effect that has brought hiring to a stand still for many employers, and in some cases, causing businesses to shutter their doors completely.
For businesses deemed as essential services during this time, hiring has only ramped up. Many of these organizations are now facing a different challenge – quickly recruiting and onboarding hires into roles that are playing a crucial role in sustaining our communities and livelihoods.
Often this is made all the more difficult by the sheer volume of candidates a posting may attract. This places an even greater barrier on underserved youth, who have now been lumped into the same candidate pools as individuals with varying experience and skill levels. However, if employers are not making a concentrated effort to identify and recruit these youth candidates, they are missing out on significant benefits to their business.
Long term retention
During the hiring process, part of what employers try to ascertain is a candidate’s long term potential. If a candidate does not show a passion for the company or role, cannot articulate how the opportunity fits into their goals, or presents experience that far surpasses what is required, they may lack the motivation that is needed to fulfill their duties.
Additionally, employers run the risk of losing these hires once another opportunity (often in another company) presents itself and is more fitting to the individual’s qualifications.
Youth workers on the other hand, are very often in the ‘Early Talent’ candidate pool. They are just beginning to build their skills and experience, and are hungry to learn. Each opportunity is an exciting chance to discover something new about themselves, as well as the world of work. And it is precisely this drive and dedication to their work that retains them for the long term.
It is no secret that younger employees tend to be more adaptable. Youth in particular have not yet developed certain habits or mindsets around how things should operate, which is often the result of past experiences. This is particularly significant in the COVID landscape, where organizations and communities alike are experiencing rapid change.
Youth inherently hold the resiliency necessary to weather this change through. Their drive and eagerness to learn keeps them pushing forward and seamlessly moving between different sets of tasks. This agile movement also makes youth strong team players, as they are able to quickly fill any gaps on a team or pitch in wherever help may be needed.
As the world of work continues to rely on technology to improve business efficiencies, youth are in an excellent position to capitalise on the trend. Their demographic has grown up with the internet, and are by nature, extremely technically savvy. It is a language that is universally familiar to them and they are well aware of the advantages. The idea of technology for youth is synonymous with progress and innovation.
In the workplace, this means that youth will embrace technology as a necessary part of their success. And will be keen advocates for any technology introductions that bring further efficiencies and advancement to their work.
An extension of the widespread adoption of technology we see among youth, is their considerable presence on social media. Although not directly linked to most core job functions, social media plays an integral role in amplifying an employer’s brand. It is the place where an organization’s voice is heard and seen, by their customers as well as potential talent. As such, youth are in a prime position to communicate this voice and share it with their networks. In essence, they are your greatest brand champions.
Would it be possible then, to build a strong workforce without tapping into the youth market?
Of course. But your aim should not merely end at building a strong workforce. It should be about setting your business apart in a world of work that will only keep experiencing rapid change.
If COVID-19 is demonstrating anything to our economy, it’s that we have to be able to pivot when our circumstances demand it, and require people that will be able to lead. Youth have the qualities necessary to drive forward this new era of change, and with the investment of opportunity by our employers, young people can be the stewards of our post-COVID economy.
Allison Colin-Thome is a Senior Associate, Employer Partnerships on the Opportunity For All Youth team, where she works closely with partners to illustrate the value youth bring to their organizations.