CEO of The HR Lounge, Angela O 'Connor, joined fellow board members at their first meeting in late 2011. It was also attended by HR leaders from a wide range of organisations.
There has never been a more challenging time for HR, given that the profession is intrinsically linked to a number of the UK’s main stress factors. As no agenda was set for this first event, Board members were invited to drive the dialogue.
The first issue that arose was youth unemployment. Over a million of 16 to 24-year olds are now unemployed leading to fears that prolonged unemployment at this early age can lead to long-term problems in the future.
There is evidence to suggest that high-quality vocational education can make a difference at this crucial stage, with some pointing to Germany’s apprenticeship system as a reason why its youth unemployment rate is so much lower than the UK’s.
Whilst a number of companies, such as Rolls-Royce, set the gold standard for apprenticeships, certain sectors have recognised that existing structures are not serving their needs. The entertainment sector appears at the forefront of this approach, with the video games and music industries running their own apprenticeships.
Although the Government’s recent announcement of a £1bn fund to subsidise work and training placements is welcome, the lack of a coherent UK national strategy aimed at school leavers not interested in – or suited to – university is concerning.
The evening also threw up the need for HR leaders to become involved earlier with the careers advice school and college leavers receive, especially in the provision of more options and innovative choices.
The Board also considered other issues affecting the current HR landscape. One area discussed was the difference between what people needed and what government agencies were able to provide.
Examples were given that demonstrated how people can miss out on jobs due to ineffectual help in matching needs to opportunities.
For some of the Board, the problems ran deeper, touching on a lack of connection between the political elite and the everyday realities of the masses.
At the close of the evening the question was asked: So what now? The answers were wide-ranging but the general consensus was that a complete rethink of the way we educate our young people and design their career path is required.
Higher education provides the skills that fuel personal wealth; however businesses are increasingly relying on skills and education provided overseas. With university fees set to exclude greater numbers from higher education, there is a real danger of a rising underclass.
This is where the Board saw the opportunity, with businesses stepping in to offer an alternate employment journey through specialised business apprenticeships. The onus is on this generation to start preparing the next one.
The three words that seemed to sum up the Board’s approach to the future were adaptability, attitude and outlook, with one member stating that the 21st Century has no demand for 19th Century business values.
If you want to know more about the Oracle HR Board, get in touch