Now is a really important time. Whilst unemployment is beginning to come down, youth unemployment has remained stubbornly high.
Young people often get criticised for lacking the basic skills required in the workplace. But we need to believe in the generations of the future – they are our prospective employees and leaders, our talent pipeline.
As an industry, it is our responsibility to inspire young people. We need to help them understand what a career in facilities management looks like, whether that is catering, reception or another area, and support them in developing the skills required. Doing this will not only help young people make more informed career and study decisions but it also supports business.
In 2011, Lexington launched the ‘Lex School of Talent’ to sit alongside our graduate training scheme. We partnered with the University of West London, as well as hospitality charity Springboard UK, and designed a two-year apprenticeship programme.
This offers young people access to the skills, knowledge and experience of our top chefs (many of whom have enjoyed Michelin-starred careers before joining us), as well as the opportunity to qualify in NVQ levels 1, 2 and 3.
The apprentices also complete comprehensive development programme so that they learn skills, outside the kitchen, that they will need in the workplace.
We try to make learning fun for our apprentices – as well as holding various competitions and awards every year, we team up with Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen Apprentices to mark National Apprenticeship Week. Splitting the apprentices across two teams they have three days to plan and prepare hot food to sell at Borough Market.
The challenge is designed to help apprentices develop a valuable taste of the skills needed in a business environment. The competition encourages apprentices to focus on a variety of skills required to progress in their career.
Investing in young people like this makes sound business and economic sense, but it is also socially the right thing to do. At Lexington, we believe in the generations of the future and are committed to helping them achieve dreams and aspirations.
These are our prospective employees and leaders: our talent pipeline. So, as a profession let’s stand together and help young people understand what a career in FM looks like, inspiring them so that they can make more informed career decisions.