By Jonathan Davies, Founder and CEO, The Training Room

According to the latest ONS data, the number of young people Not in Education, Employment or Training (NEETs) is on the decline. This is great news for the British economy and especially for those firms benefitting from young talent joining their workforce. But while the number is falling, we mustn’t forget there are still 955,000 NEETS still out there across the UK.

48% of these 16 to 24 year-olds are actively seeking employment – so that’s 458,400 young people who could be trained and recruited into businesses looking to expand and develop.

What can be done?

A host of options are available to young people after leaving school, yet many tend to assume that higher education is the most effective route to a meaningful career. But what if that isn’t necessarily the best option?

Many young people who chose higher education end up with great academic knowledge but can lack the practical skills and experience needed to compete in the increasingly competitive job market and often struggle to find degree-related jobs. This means that many find themselves unemployed and have racked up an average £44,000 worth of debt to go along with it.

Likewise, apprenticeships are becoming increasingly competitive, and when you consider that there is double the amount of applicants for every one position available, it’s easy to see why this can also be a tough route.

In order to find the best path after leaving school, young jobseekers need to be educated on the wide breadth of options available - not just the traditional routes – so that they’re better able to choose the right option for their needs and skills.

Vocational training is often overlooked as a credible alternative to academia but offers a much more efficient route into the workplace. Vocational studies allow students to learn the practical skills they need to compete in the job market, and because they are often fast-track courses, students are able to start looking for work within weeks or months, rather than years.

Why businesses should get on board

In order for businesses to grow and remain competitive, it is vital they boost their workforces with the best candidates.

Expanding their recruitment pool to include the vocationally trained is a brilliant way to do this. Vocational students are trained in real working environments and are taught by tutors who are highly experienced in their fields, allowing them to develop strong skills-sets in readiness for joining their chosen industry as soon as they qualify.

This reduces the need for companies to invest in extensive training for new recruits - and less required training means businesses, especially start-ups, can grow a lot faster.

Furthermore, the timescales of vocational courses make them efficient and convenient for employers. Businesses have the opportunity to recruit at any time, rather than revolving their hiring around the traditional academic calendar. Plus, it’s a great solution should firms find themselves needing to fill unexpected gaps.
It is clear that recruiting the vocationally trained doesn’t just tackle the nation’s NEET problem – it also makes good business sense too. But in order to make real progress, it is crucial that businesses start showing a willingness to recruit from a broader talent pool. This in turn will demonstrate to young people the validity of less conventional training options.

Jonathan Davies is founder and CEO at The Training Room, a careers provider specialising in fast-track training across a range of industries, including personal training and beauty.