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Supporting the Next Generation

Leaders of businesses both large and small must work together to grow youth employment.


The UK is currently experiencing a boom in employment with the latest ONS figures the highest since records began in 1971. Just over 30 million people are now in jobs - up 459,000 on a year ago.

More opportunities are open to young people than at any time in recent years. More young people than ever have the route to university and modern apprenticeships are growing in popularity and recognition.

The Government has done a lot to encourage big business to take on more apprenticeships and our universities are producing huge pools of talented young people. All of this effort is to be applauded.

While these developments are undoubtedly good news, there is still much more to do. We must not forget that there are a large number of young people who are not in work and are not destined for university or high quality apprenticeships.

Tackling youth unemployment must continue to be a priority.  While youth unemployment is falling, there still remain 912,000 16 to 24 year olds currently out of work. Many are finding it immensely challenging to find their way into the working world – far less their dream job. We must never allow these young people to become a ‘lost generation’.

Wasted talent has enormous knock on consequences for our economy and society. If Britain is to continue to remain competitive in the future, we need a new vision for how we get these young people into work.

Small business owners can offer a great deal to these young people.

With an estimated 4.9 million small businesses currently operating in the UK, small employers have a fundamental role to play in showing young people that the route to self-employment is a viable alternative to a life on benefits.

As well as providing secure employment, smaller businesses are also fantastic role models for work ethic and community involvement. And of course they help inspire and nurture the next generation of small business owners that will help sustain our economy into the future.

Big business has a role to play.

I believe big business can help. They can work more intelligently with smaller businesses to help share experiences and support third sector organisations that are working to help young people who are struggling with their life chances.

And with the Government also helping, the time is now.

The Government has introduced an Employment Allowance, which will take £2,000 off the employer National Insurance contributions (NICs) of every business.

The Employment Allowance will benefit 1.25 million employers next year. Around 450,000 of those businesses – that’s a third of all employers - will no longer pay any National Insurance at all.

That’s a great incentive for smaller businesses to reach out and offer work to a young person who has chosen not to go into further education or an apprenticeship.

For a business employing four people on the National Minimum Wage, or one person on up to £22,000 a year, this will get rid of your National Insurance contributions altogether.

If larger businesses become more wiling to help smaller businesses to see the benefit of employing young people perhaps by opening up their training courses or providing mentors we could start to encourage a new generation of self employment and small business ownership. There are also some great third sector organisations such as The Princes Trust that provide encouragement to young people looking to start their own business. Larger businesses can help provide support to these intermediaries.

I believe this is a good time to nurture the next generation of small business owners and we all have a role to play.

Gavin Bounds
About the Author

Gavin Bounds

Chief Operating Officer at Fujitsu UK & Ireland

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