Young people do not have the necessary skills for today's world of work

According to web polls conducted by Hays, the world leading specialist in workforce solutions and recruitment, young people entering employment don’t have the necessary skills, and relevant work opportunities could be a barrier to obtaining them.

Ahead of World Youth Skills Day, held annually on 15 July, Hays asked over 17,600 respondents globally whether they thought young people had the required skills to enter the world of work when leaving education. 69% of people responded by saying they didn’t think they did have the necessary skills and the remaining 31% by saying they thought they did.

In a separate poll, Hays asked nearly 12,500 respondents what they thought was preventing young people from gaining the necessary skills to secure employment. Almost half (45%) of respondents claimed that a lack of relevant opportunities was the main barrier to achieving this, while 28% believed that careers and skills insights were not readily available to them. 14% felt access to education was the main barrier for them and 13% believed it was access to the right tools or technology.

Commenting on the results, Kirsty Hulston, Regional Director at Hays Singapore, said, “It’s in the interest of organisations to ensure that those entering employment are equipped with the required skills and that opportunities are afforded to them. So, businesses and educators must work together to address these issues.”

Developing skills while in education

The global pandemic has had a negative impact on those in education and negatively impacted their work experience opportunities. Many young people have missed out on a conventional introduction to the world of work, making it difficult for those leaving education, or at the beginning of their careers, to gain the necessary experience.

Technology is also transforming many aspects of the world of work, meaning the skills that are sought after by employers are continually changing. As a result, careers advice and the skills that are being taught in formal education are at risk of falling behind what is required in the current world of work.

Kirsty, commented, “There needs to be a better connection established between businesses and educational institutions, to truly understand what skills are needed and ensure young people are better prepared for the world of work. The careers advice available to students needs to be robust and better aligned to the needs of business. There is more information that can be given to young people that will help them make more informed decisions about their future.”

Business leaders could facilitate the sharing of practical, honest, real world careers advice to young people still in education, such as mentorship programmes or industry work experience days.

Kirsty, said, “Supporting young people to ensure they have a foundation for a successful long-term career is vital to our future talent pipeline and plugging skills gaps in the longer-term. Businesses can help to bridge the gap between school and the world of work by working with educators to help frame the curriculum so we can be sure it is as relevant as possible for the new era of work.”

Offering additional support once in work

Businesses should also take into consideration that those leaving education may need additional support to help develop their skills. Organisations can use training to ensure new staff develop the necessary skills. Mentoring, coaching, project involvement, on-the-job learning and stretch opportunities will also ensure entry-level staff are given the groundwork they need for a successful start to their career.

Kirsty, commented, “Some organisations implement a two-way mentorship scheme in which senior and junior colleagues train one another with relevant skills and knowledge. This boosts these employees’ confidence in two ways: firstly, by allowing them to develop useful skills and, secondly, by proving that their current skillset and experience is of real value to you and others.”

Organisations should also consider thinking beyond set pre-requirements. Hays CEO, Alistair Cox, previously said, “It shouldn’t matter where a candidate went to university, or even if they went to university at all. What matters is that they are the best person for the job. What matters is their potential. So, widen your net to consider those who have completed apprenticeships or vocational educational training going forward – the focus shouldn’t just be on university education.”

If organisations want to benefit from future pipelines of talent, they must take responsibility for preparing young people for the world of work and help to nurture their potential. Failing to do so risks a generation of professionals and talent.


Hays carried out the poll on LinkedIn between 27 June and 6 July 2022.


About Hays Singapore

Hays Specialist Recruitment Pte Ltd, Singapore ("Hays Singapore") is one of Singapore's leading recruitment companies in recruiting qualified, professional and skilled people across a wide range of industries and professions.

Hays has been in Singapore for over a decade and boasts a track record of success and growth. We operate across the private and public sector, dealing in permanent, temporary and contracting positions in more than 15 different specialisms, including Accountancy & Finance, Banking & Financial Services, Engineering, Human Resources, Legal, Life Sciences, Marketing & Digital, Office Professionals, Procurement, Supply Chain, Sales and Technology. Hays Singapore was named the “Best Small Workplace” in Singapore in 2019 and 2018 and was ranked fourth “Best Multinational Workplace” in Asia 2020 by Great Place to Work.

About Hays

Hays plc (the "Group") is the world leading specialist in workforce solutions and recruitment, such as RPO and MSP. The Group is the expert at recruiting qualified, professional and skilled people worldwide, being the market leader in the UK and Australia and one of the market leaders in Continental Europe, Latin America and Asia. The Group operates across the private and public sectors, dealing in permanent positions, contract roles and temporary assignments. As at 31 December 2021 the Group employed c.12,100 staff operating from 254 offices. For the year ended 30 June 2021:

– the Group reported net fees of £918.1 million and operating profit of £95.1 million;

– the Group placed around 60,000 candidates into permanent jobs and around 220,000 people into temporary roles;

– 17% of Group net fees were generated in Australia & New Zealand, 27% in Germany, 22% in United Kingdom & Ireland and 34% in Rest of World (RoW);

– the temporary placement business represented 61% of net fees and the permanent placement business represented 39% of net fees;

– Technology is the Group’s largest specialism, with 26% of net fees, while Accountancy & Finance (14%) and Construction & Property (12%), are the next largest