Henry Boot's commitment to helping young people of Sheffield build careers: Tim Roberts

Today’s young people are tomorrow’s leaders, and yet a concerning number are falling out of our education system and losing out on opportunities to seek meaningful employment and improve their future career prospects.

One in 10 young people aged 16 and 17 in Henry Boot’s home city of Sheffield are not in education, employment, or training (NEET), almost twice the average rate in England.

Statistics such as this must act as a wakeup call, indicating that the business community needs to play a more proactive role in engaging young people and offering them interactive careers engagement to shape their futures.

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As employers, we can play a key role in raising aspirations, attainment, and readiness for work, helping to broaden young people’s horizons and prepare them for the workplace.

Tim Roberts is CEO of Henry Boot. Picture: James BastableTim Roberts is CEO of Henry Boot. Picture: James Bastable
Tim Roberts is CEO of Henry Boot. Picture: James Bastable

As well as the significant impact on each young person who falls out of the education system, this issue means that businesses are missing out on vital talent.

Helping young people take control of their futures is not only the right thing to do; it also has clear benefits for businesses and supports a thriving local economy.

It’s never too early for employers to start working with young people.

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Skills such as problem-solving, collaboration, and creativity are taught at a young age, and young people can benefit from understanding that these skills stay with you throughout life.

Any employer can help young people understand more about the world of work whether through career talks, work experience, or one-to-one mentoring.

That’s why Henry Boot is working alongside Business in the Community as part of the Sheffield Pride of Place Board, to help improve the prospects of young people and stop them from becoming NEET in the first place.

This initiative is an exciting coalition of the business sector (including other large employers such as Aviva and Mott MacDonald), local government, health, education, and the voluntary sector.

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The good news is that initiatives like this can make a meaningful difference.

Research suggests that it only takes four positive interactions with employers to significantly improve a young person’s career and life outcomes.

Supporting and guiding young people who are still in education is a powerful and effective way of reducing NEET rates and I am excited to see the impact and influence that the Pride of Place initiative will have on local young people in Sheffield.

So I am putting out a call to action to all employers to lend their support to learners and to engage and excite young people about their future careers.

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Addressing skills shortages and unlocking long-term economic benefits for the current and future workforce, as well as working together to support the leaders of tomorrow, has never been more important.

Tim Roberts is CEO of Henry Boot and Chair of Business in the Community’s Sheffield Pride of Place Board

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