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“Having good exam results & qualifications is not enough”

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This quote was at the centre of our HR Peer Group discussion yesterday.  We meet quarterly to discuss topics that affect those of us at the coal face of hiring & firing.  Our group includes Owner/Managers, Line Managers, HR Consultants, Solicitors & Recruiters.  It’s not a training session or a sales presentation, just an open, honest discussion where everyone can share their experiences and air opinions.

So, as you can imagine, the above quote well & truly lit the blue touch paper.  One thing that we all agreed on, was that attitude is paramount regardless of age or experience.  And that’s not just the attitude of education leavers joining the workforce.  As one of our members so rightly pointed out – it can be the attitude of the incumbent workforce to the new starter.

We all had good & bad experiences to share about “youngsters” in the workplace and the importance of “employability” skills.  But, what did spark discussion was who is responsible for instilling these skills in our young folk?  Parents?  Educational establishments? Aren’t life skills part of bringing up your offspring?  Manners, work ethic, managing expectations, aren’t these traits that should be taught at your Mother’s (or Father’s) knee?

Many of our group agreed that exam results & qualifications played a part in ensuring that the person would be capable of carrying out the work task, however it’s that all important team fit.  Will they disrupt a perfectly well balanced team; will they pull their weight; will someone have to be appointed to watch over them to make sure they do it right?  All this adds to the faff factor.

Faff is what most of our Employers want to avoid.  It’s not that they don’t want to take young people, or returners for that matter.  They don’t want faff. They want people to come into the workplace and work.  To pick up the tasks easily and not cause disruption for any reason.  It’s all about the base (bottom line).

Therefore, if you’re an education leaver (or parent of an education leaver) reading this blog, let your personality shine out. Don’t just sit on your A* s, show them you understand when to use initiative, that you have something about you. Make eye contact, interact and for goodness sake smile – it goes a long, long way.

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