Andy Sanford, Business Advisory Partner, Blick Rothenberg

British business will suffer if graduates and school leavers are unable to take up the jobs and training they were promised in September, say leading tax and advisory firm @BlickRothenberg:

The issue of exam results and getting children back to school are both critical but Graduates and school leavers must not be precluded from starting employment in September, that they were promised.

The fear for new school leavers and graduates is that if their programme is deferred or cancelled, there will be more competition for places next September.

The government must recognise that there is a real risk of talent being wasted in professions which make a large contribution to the UK economy.  They must be prioritised.

There are certain measures the Government should undertake to help stimulate employment for graduates and school leavers in these difficult times. Many companies are precluded from using the apprentice levy, due to the time requirements for actual learning, when in some professions the best form of learning is on the job. Given the difficulties of organising some forms of training, the rules concerning the use of the levy should be loosened so that more firms can use the unspent levy pots during the next six months.

Employers of apprentices under the age of 25 are not required to pay Employers National Insurance contributions (NIC) on earnings up to £40,000 for those employees. The government should consider extending this relief as a temporary measure, for all new starters who are studying for a professional qualification not covered by the apprentice levy.

The Government should work with business partnerships and chambers of commerce to develop effective job assessment programmes that are adapted to remote working. Many smaller businesses in particular, may have deferred assessment programmes and any assistance they can receive in devising a programme that suits their needs will be welcomed.

For most businesses, particularly in professional services, September is the entry point for the start of many careers. A large number of businesses will have already cut back on their employment of new entrants given the uncertain economic conditions. Social distancing measures may add an extra complexity to induction programmes. Whilst businesses have adapted well to home working, many of the induction programmes are heavily reliant on social interaction and specific on the job training.  Any further restriction of the use of training offices may result in programmes being deferred or even worse cancelled.

For those who do start new careers, it will be a difficult time and ‘in the office’ training should be as normal as possible. They should receive personal training from IT, HR and their manager as well as presentations from some of the senior leaders in the business, as well as being assigned a ‘buddy’, who in the most part should meet them in person but available when they have questions.

A number of training aspects can be done virtually and graduates should be given a timetable to attend such virtual courses.

It is important that young people are starting work for the first time are made to feel part of a year groups so that they can start to connect with each other.  It’s important they have a support system with each other as well as from their manager.

Andy Sanford, Business Advisory Partner, Blick Rothenberg

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