Unemployment in South Africa is out of control. And the numbers get even scarier when you drill down and look at how unemployment affects our youth. While SA’s national unemployment rate stood at 35.3% in the fourth quarter of 2021, Stats SA’s latest employment data reveals that youth unemployment is as high as 66.5%.
Addressing this issue demands that businesses see it as an opportunity to seek out young talent, capitalise on their willingness to learn, and tap into the fresh ideas and enthusiasm exhibited by the youth. Not to mention the Employment Tax Incentive (ETI) boost your business gets when you hire young people.
When one considers that Africa has the youngest population in the world – with 70% of the population in sub-Saharan Africa under 30 – it’s clear that young people will drive the region’s economic future. It’s equally clear that the businesses that fail to find ways to reach out to these young people and gear their hiring strategies to attract young talent may soon find themselves with no one to hire.
Top tips for youth recruitment success
If HR professionals and employers want to speak to younger demographics, they need to rethink their entire recruitment process and readjust some of their long-standing practices. In doing so, they can increase the business’s appeal to find and employ the people they need to secure the business’s future.
There’s no denying that the world of work has changed dramatically and that employee expectations have shifted to a similar degree. This is why recruitment needs to change too.
Here are our top four essential youth recruitment strategies for successful hiring.
1. Start at the very beginning
Strategic recruiting practices aim to maximise the use of resources so that HR has more time to use their know-how and experience on more important tasks. When looking to hire young people, you need to start professional development early. Businesses can’t expect to hire a young person with ten years of experience. If you want to bring young candidates into your organisation, you must get comfortable providing these new hires with opportunities to learn. Should this not be your cup of tea, consider developing programmes that reach students early in their academic careers so that you can help them build skills while they are studying. These programmes also allow them to interact with professionals in their industry of interest.
2. Use the right approach/channels
Take some time to research what the generation you’re targeting care about. If you understand where their values lie, you can target each position and each hire appropriately. For example, most young people are comfortable using technology. If you’re looking to hire young people, you need to leverage digital tools. From posting on social media channels to using web-based recruitment platforms, this strategy meets young people where they are. You could also consider adding a Careers tab on your website where people looking for work can view the positions you have on offer. This approach lets you connect with people who are already curious about your business because someone isn’t likely to visit your website and click on a Careers tab unless they’re interested in what you do.
3. Rethink your hiring practices
Getting strategic about hiring entails developing a talent pipeline rather than tapping into a talent pool. The latter includes all potential candidates; the former only consists of the candidates that meet the requirements you’re looking for. Creating a talent pipeline can help you target young people and identify suitable candidates more efficiently.
For human resource departments and hiring managers, rethinking hiring means challenging the notion that talent only comes from certain places. Most HR professionals and recruiters will have their go-to channels when looking for candidates. Consider adding other, less frequently used sources into the mix. Sure, online recruitment is effective, but you could also consider offline recruitment methods, like attending face-to-face events, to connect with new candidates. You could also tap into your existing employees’ networks and encourage them to refer quality candidates for open positions within the business.
4. Give them a reason to stay
What does my future look like as part of this team? This is a question that any new employee will be asking themselves when they join your business, especially young employees. Giving a potential hire a clear picture of their career progression can affect their decision to accept a job offer, so make this clear during the recruitment process. Providing training schemes that develop both hard and soft skillsets will attract candidates who are thinking about longer-term career progression and personal development. Likewise, something like a job rotation programme, which offers employees the chance to try their hand at different roles, gives a good overview of what other teams do. This can help young employees find their niche based on their unique skills and interests.
Finally, by establishing a mentoring or buddy programme, you can rope in your more experienced staff to help young hires find their feet. These one-on-one interactions also provide youth with a space to have honest and open conversations about their concerns and successes.
The strategic hunt for talent
In 2022, recruitment is no longer just a hunt for talent; it’s a strategic, data-driven activity. Sage 300 People is an HR, payroll, and employee self-service solution that enables businesses to unlock valuable insights so that they have a clearer picture of their entire workforce. Plus, teams can tailor their approach to recruitment and hiring to align with broader business strategies. But that’s not all. Businesses looking to up their recruitment and HR game can add additional modules or powerful ISV solutions, like Direct Hire to enhance their entire recruitment process.