GTP22: How to attract young talent

Aston University

This blog post has been produced for the Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce as part of the 2022 Growth Through People campaign.

Growth Through People is the Chamber’s annual campaign aiming to help local firms boost productivity and grow through improved leadership and people management skills. In 2022 this involves 8 free webinars and events sharing best practice advice and guidance taking place throughout March, and a Growth Through People conference on 30th March. In addition, throughout the campaign the Chambers will be publishing thought leadership podcasts and blog content such as this.

Thanks to our Headline Partners and Sponsors – Aston University, Birmingham City Council, South and City College Birmingham and the West Midlands Combined Authority - all Growth Through People workshops are free to attend. Interested readers can find out more and register to attend Growth Through People workshops here, and the Growth Through People conference here.

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed workplace culture in a way none of us could have expected pre-2020. The pandemic brought a host of societal changes, the ‘Great Resignation’ and a shift in HR strategies, but how has this affected the way that young talent thinks? In this blog post, Jacob Ayenamayi, a final year Aston University student, discusses the changes he's seen over the past two years and how he thinks employers can attract a younger, skilled workforce.

How to attract young talent

Recent changes have inspired us as students and graduates to think in new and different ways about the types of workplaces we want to start our careers in, changes which may necessitate a shift in your thinking around the recruitment of young talent.

Here are two areas in which you can adapt your strategies for recruiting young talent in the new working world:

Inspire confidence

We as students and graduates recognise that the pandemic has brought about increased levels of competition, which results in higher levels of anxiety and unease about entering the workplace, detailed in this Higher Education Policy Institute report which states that 28% of respondents feel anxious about joining the labour market. Companies can go a long way to alleviate these fears by ensuring that inspiring confidence is at the forefront of their young talent attraction strategy. This means taking an active role to help young people feel ready for the workplace alongside schools and universities. A simple way to achieve this is to provide opportunities to upskill themselves with the skills most relevant to working in your company. Running workshops on technical skills like coding or softer skills like networking or commercial awareness is a perfect way to give people the confidence they need to apply to your company.

Be relatable

Diversity and inclusion (D&I) have become major topics in the world of work over the past couple of years, but it’s important to understand what D&I actually means. According to the Bright Network, 40% of graduates value a company’s people and culture as the most important aspects when deciding upon a graduate job, and a large part of this for us is being able to picture ourselves ‘fitting in’ within the corporate culture. this often manifests itself as a desire to work with people that reflect your own backgrounds, and it’s important that your young talent attraction strategies take this into account. The schools, colleges and universities you target should reflect the same values and characteristics as your organisation, and any marketing and events should be relatable. In practice, this could involve asking interns and recent graduates to attend events, share their stories or act as the ‘face of the company’ in marketing material. This can also help boost engagement for recruitment events and encourage young talent to interact with organisations that they feel that they can relate to. Additionally, ensure that channels of communication are open between your company and those you are trying to target, whether that be with the recruitment team, managers or young talent within the company, so that students can feel as comfortable as possible when engaging with you.

Students and recent graduates now have more options than ever when choosing where to start their careers, so making sure that our needs and expectations are front and centre of your company’s attraction strategy is critical to ensuring the success of your future talent pipeline.

Written by Aston University final year student, Jacob Ayenamayi

Jacob Ayenamayi is an Aston University student in his final year of a BSc Politics with International Relations degree. During the penultimate year of his studies, he completed a year-long placement as an HR and Recruitment Intern with global technology company, Intel Corporation. Here, he offers advice for businesses looking to attract young talent.

If you’d like to recruit a young person like Jacob, Aston University’s experienced Employer Engagement team can help. They’ll take on-board your requirements and support you by finding students and graduates with the skills you’re looking for. Recruiting placement students can be a great route to sourcing future graduate talent. If you’re looking to fill a graduate-level role, you’ll be in good hands with an Aston University graduate, who, owing to the Aston University placement programme, are some of the country’s most employable. 

Aston University’s comprehensive recruitment service is offered free of charge and can save you time and money when looking for employees. You can get in touch at The team would love to hear from you.