Diane Varrin Eshleman: How Business Can Help Address Youth Employability

By Diane Varrin Eshleman, Managing Director, Global Head of Citizenship and Reputation, Barclays

Barclays is a transatlantic bank with a history of supporting young people to gain skills for employability. Between 2012 and 2015, we delivered skills training to over 5.7 million disadvantaged young people and in 2016 we helped a further 1.7m people gain employability skills.

 

During this time, we have increasingly focused on measuring and understanding the impacts that our programmes are having, not just for those individuals up-skilled, but for wider society, our customers, clients, our own colleagues and our business.

 

In this blog I want to share some of the learnings that our measurement is teaching us, in the hope that it could help others from the private sector to support more young people into good jobs and to help businesses to scale and grow.

 

Our Ambition

At Barclays, our 2016-2018 Shared Growth Ambition is to deliver products and services that create societal and commercial value. Providing access to employment is one of our three focus areas. Under this we’re investing not only in employability skills programmes and future of work research but we’re also working with businesses, partners, our clients and customers to create access to job opportunities in high growth companies and with scale up entrepreneurs.

 

Insight driven approach

Two key pieces of insight are driving our approach:

 

- An estimated 600 million jobs are needed in the next 15 years to absorb a growing global workforce[1]
38% of employers globally report that they are experiencing difficulty filling jobs due to lack of available talent.[2]
 
- What we took away was the understanding that to be able to grow, businesses need individuals with the right skills; yet individuals may not be aware of the roles companies are looking for, which means they don’t get the right skills training needed to fill them.

 

At Barclays we’re addressing this conundrum in a number of ways, here are four examples:

 

Good for customers

Supporting people to gain employability is not only helping us to build deeper relationships and trust with customers, we’re also attracting new ones. Our flagship employability programme in the UK is LifeSkills. The programme sees us working alongside teachers, parents and businesses to provide valuable skills to young people which will help them in the future world of work. Working in conjunction with the current school curriculum, we’re able to offer employability resources from CV writing and virtual interview practice tools to work experience opportunities; helping young people still in education as well as once they have left. Already LifeSkills is raising the aspirations of young people as they feel more confident about the future and we are seeing evidence that young people are using what they have learnt to secure employment and manage their finances more effectively. The demand for LifeSkills is increasing with more than 3.9 million young people having already participated in the programme and 83% of UK secondary schools and sixth form colleges registered.

 

Good for clients

As a bank we are committed to helping our clients’ businesses scale and grow. We saw the opportunity to link the ‘work ready’ unemployed individuals who have graduated from our employability programmes to jobs and apprenticeships that our clients are struggling to fill by the development of our Connect with Work programme. Connect with Work sees us collaborating with our clients beyond banking services and together we’re able to support access to long term meaningful work.  For organisations without business clients, we are also seeing this add real value to members of our supply chain.

 

Good for our colleagues

Fostering the right culture at Barclays is critical to our success. We want our colleagues to engage fully with our Shared Growth Ambition. Of the 32,000 colleagues actively engaged with Shared Growth the majority are directly giving their skills, time and resources to provide employability opportunities for others. We’re seeing a benefit not only in preparing people for future employment but also in supporting our own people to grow in confidence and develop new skills in an environment away from finance. This is being reflected in our annual colleague survey, where 88% say they feel proud of Barclays contribution to society.

 

Another direct benefit to colleagues can be seen through our apprentice programmes, which engage people from communities of high unemployment, offering permanent roles and a career pathway. Of the 3,000 apprentices Barclays has recruited since 2012, we estimate that becoming a Barclays apprentice can boost individual earnings over a lifetime by up to £150,000. Our Apprentice Degree Programme is establishing a strong and committed pipeline of career ready recruits: 115 people graduated between 2012 and 2015; 86% are still working for Barclays, and of these an impressive 69% are in leadership or management positions and 31% in specialist positions.

 

Good for our company

 In the US we recognised that recruiting across technology sectors such as web development, coding and cyber security represented areas of significant demand from employers, including within our own business. This saw us develop a partnership with Per Scholas in New York supporting their technology training programmes for people living below 200% of the federal poverty level, who are un- and underemployed.

 

Together we deliver a high impact IT training programme with >80% job placement rate, including supporting a new facility in Brooklyn and engaging our own technology team to co-design a cybersecurity training curriculum and internship programme. By recruiting directly from the program, Barclays is benefiting from new talent trained in the vital skills the business needs, whilst recruits show high levels of loyalty to the business.

 

Creating access to employment is good for business and good for society. By helping to address unemployment, we’re seeing tangible benefits to individuals’ social and economic prospects, and how it creates broader opportunities for growth and increased resilience. This, in turn is helping to build long-term demand for and access to our business services. We will continue to evolve and we won’t always get it right, but this is an exciting time for Barclays and we look forward to being able to share more on our impacts in the future.


[1] ILO – World Outlook Social Outlook 2015

[2] Manpower Talent Shortage Survey, 2015.

Editor's Note:

In partnership with Business Fights Poverty this blog forms part of the Business Fights Poverty Challenge on Youth Employability, which Barclays is supporting along with DFID, Pearson, Anglo American, Citi and BRAC.  

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...why not join one of the many open collaboration Challenges we are running to address pressing global issues? Join your peers, share your passion and add your expertise!

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