In recent years, a growing number of savvy employers - large and small, multinational and local - have identified young people as their secret weapon in the war on talent.

They recognise that investing in the talents of graduates, school-leavers, apprentices and young people looking for their first role after college can pay dividends. They are reaping the benefits of a diverse and multi-skilled workforce and meeting the challenging demands of the modern economy.

Not everyone has caught on yet, but businesses choosing to invest in younger workers can expect to see a number of additional advantages beyond the standard benefits of new talent, like boosted innovation, increased productivity and enhanced organisational agility.

Young people’s employers can find their competitiveness boosted and improve their awareness of the needs of the future customers. Research from the National Apprenticeship Service has shown that organisations employing apprentices enjoy enhanced brand and increased customer satisfaction, with 81% of consumers favouring companies that engage with young people in this way.

Younger workers bring unique skills, often technological know-how and digital literacy, and an enthusiasm to learn and share new skills. They are often more willing to adopt the culture and values of their employer and recruiting young people has been shown to boost employee pride and loyalty.

Finally, and perhaps most satisfying of all, employing a young person means you can mould them into the employee your business needs, with the skills to match. A recent CIPD survey found that 38% of employers recruited young people in the last 12 months in order to ‘grow their own’, developing the skills their business needs in the future.

Yet, while the reasons for investing in younger workers may be clear, attention needs to be paid to the way in which your company recruits, manages and develops young colleagues to ensure the organisation fully benefits from the wealth of skills and talents they have to offer.

That said, integrating a young person into your organisation need not be a daunting prospect, and the CIPD’s Learning to Work programme has step-by-step guidance and best practice advice for organisations looking to begin their engagement with young people. Here are a few tips to get you started:

Examine the roles available to young people in your business and try to offer more

Depending on their background and education, young people with less work experience often need to start in roles which don’t require too many technical skills or demand specialist knowledge.

Opportunities like these might seem quite difficult to offer, but they do exist and are ideal as a way of bringing in and nurturing the talents of young people. Consider whether you have any permanent roles like this in your company or see if you can offer an internship or work experience.

Try an apprentice

Last year, over half of employers reported increasing the number of Apprenticeships they offer in their business. For small businesses, Apprenticeships offer a great way to ‘grow your own’, and there’s financial support available to help, with some employers eligible for a £1,500 Apprenticeship grant under the AGE 16-24 scheme. Contact the National Apprenticeship Service’s specialist small business support team for more information on support available.

Make recruitment more youth-friendly

Some aspects of the recruitment process, such as competency-based interviewing, can disadvantage young people who have less experience to discuss with their interviewer.

By switching to strength-based interviewing, young people can demonstrate their suitability for a role by referring to projects they’ve completed, hobbies or volunteering.

It’s also important to advertise opportunities widely and clearly, using an up-to-date job description and person specification where appropriate, and avoiding jargon. Remember: the wider the talent pool, the better the fishing!

Invest time up front and provide a thorough induction to the world of work

There are certain things that all good inductions should contain, including a tour of the facilities, explanation of how the company is structured and practical guidance in areas such as working times, pay and tax and health and safety. A well thought through induction can help new colleagues gain a better understanding of their role and make them feel comfortable, confident and supported going forward.

Work with colleagues and line managers to develop young employees and help them to flourish

Finally, manage the expectations of the new recruit’s colleagues on what tasks the young person should be able to do immediately and what they might not.

Provide the tools and support to line managers who will be responsible for the young person once they arrive and work with them to discover the ways they could support their new young employee, from providing regular opportunities to discuss progress and feedback to or providing a mentor or buddy. (For more information on how to provide the right level of support to young people in the workplace, read our guide Managing Future Talent.)

With the unemployment rate for 16-24 year olds at 19.1% and many more young people due to finish their formal education in the summer, a huge pool of potential is available to businesses willing to engage young workers.

There’s no better business investment than employing a young person and successfully harnessing their skills and capabilities so that they grow with your business, so follow these steps and give it a try.

By Annie Peate, Programme and Policy Officer, CIPD