More than a third (35%) of employers are now engaging with local schools and colleges, according to a survey of more than 1,000 UK employers, conducted by the CIPD, the professional body for HR and people development. As youth unemployment continues to show few signs of falling, the CIPD is urging UK businesses to channel their engagement with schools via established programmes, such as the Inspiring the Future initiative. With 70% of state secondary schools in England now signed up to Inspiring the Future, it provides a free and easy method for businesses and schools to connect.

The research, conducted by the CIPD as part of its Learning to Work programme, revealed that many employers have increased the number of access routes into their organisations for young people, a crucial step towards overcoming youth unemployment. Amongst those employers who offer Apprenticeship schemes over half (56%) report that they have increased the number over the last twelve months. The number of Traineeships and school-leaver programmes on offer has also been increased in many organisations (50% of those offering Traineeships report an increase and 48% of those offering school leaver programmes report they have increased them).

However, the data, highlighted in the research summary, ‘The opportunity – information gap: the role of employer engagement with schools’, also revealed that, despite the increase in the number of access routes, too few employers were receiving applications from young people aged 16-24. Just under a quarter (24%) of employers did not receive a single application from a young person over the last year, and almost a third (31%) of private sector organisation had no applications from young people.

In order to overcome this, and ensure that young people are made aware of the many work opportunities on offer and how to access them,  the CIPD has joined forces with Inspiring the Future, a free national initiative set up by the Education and Employers Taskforce to match volunteers from the world of work with local state schools and colleges. As a result of the partnership more than 1,200 HR professionals have signed up to volunteer in schools over the past six months, making themselves available to deliver career insight talks and CV and interview advice sessions.

Commenting, ahead of an Inspiring the Future careers event taking place at Dunraven School in south London, Peter Cheese, Chief Executive of the CIPD, said: “I’m volunteering at Dunraven School today, alongside individuals from  Barclays, Capgemini, the London Fire Brigade and others, to provide year 10 students with important insights into the world of work. Employer contact has a significant impact on young people, and should form part of wider efforts to help overcome youth unemployment. However, it’s important to recognise that schools can be bombarded with individual requests from businesses. Inspiring the Future provides a mechanism that allows schools to reach out to employers as and when they need them, which is why I am thrilled that so many CIPD members have already registered as volunteers.”

Speaking on the importance of business engagement with schools, David Boyle, Principal at Dunraven School said: “Dunraven is committed to the long-term success of our students.  We are clear that, in order to become well-rounded individuals who are prepared for life after they leave school, our students need to understand the world of work. Events like the one organised today as part of Inspiring the Future, help our students to explore future career options. Inspiring the Future supports schools and employers to connect and I would encourage others to take advantage of such an important, and free, initiative.”

Nick Chambers, Director of the Education and Employers Taskforce, and founder of Inspiring the Future, said: “Research shows that there is a massive information gap between the real demands of employers and what young people know and where their aspirations lie. This is why Inspiring the Future gets volunteers from all jobs, professions and career stages – apprentice to CEO – into state schools and colleges to give real life career insights to pupils. Our partnership with the CIPD helps young people at school meet HR professionals who can help give a rounded picture of employability skills.”

Mike Thompson, Head of Employability and Early Career Programmes at Barclays, one of the organisations taking part in the event today, said: “In recent years Barclays has recognised the need to increase the diversity of candidates we recruit into our organisation. Our Apprenticeships programme has seen 1100 long term unemployed young people join Barclays, many of whom will stay with us for years to come and contribute to the future success of the organisation. However, it’s not just about creating access routes, as a business we believe we also have a duty to reach out to schools in order to help equip young people with the skills they need for the future. As well as running our own Lifeskills programme we are pleased to support the CIPD and Inspiring the Future’s efforts to increase engagement with local schools and would encourage other businesses to do the same.”

To find out more about Inspiring the Future, and sign up as a volunteer or school, visit: