I’m looking for a young person with a positive attitude. Somebody who is interested in the business, who wants to learn and shows commitment. If they have formal qualifications that’s great, but if they don’t I’d like to see what effort they have made to improve their skills.


Every employer interviewed for the project highlighted the importance of a young person having a positive attitude – showing enthusiasm, commitment and energy.


I like to see a young person with spark and personality. Somebody who is determined and tries to do their best every day.


Employers also highly value ‘soft skills‘ which are transferable to different jobs. These skills include communication, problem-solving, time management, teamwork and the ability to work well under pressure.


Young people need to be good team players. They need to be able to get on with their colleagues, give and accept help.


Hard skills are also important to employers – particularly English, maths and digital skills.


Keeping up to date with developments in ICT and digital technology is vital to the success of our business. Technology changes at a fast pace. All employees need to be open to change and able to adapt to new technology.


Employers recognise that not all the qualities they are looking for can be measured through qualifications, however qualifications are valued by them as they provide a guide to the hard skills and the ability that a young person has in a specific area.


Many of the young people that we employ didn’t leave school with good GCSEs, but they have completed qualifications or short courses once they left school to improve on this. Doing short courses and signing up for government training programmes shows me that the young person wants to develop good skills and that they are committed to getting a job.


The importance of experience – particularly work experience and volunteering – was also highlighted by employers taking part in the project.  


Young people gain experience in all sorts of ways – hobbies, volunteering, work placements, part-time jobs, supporting friends, caring for relatives…it’s important that young people are able to reflect on this and really think about the skills and experience they are developing and how this can benefit an employer.


Download What Employers Want – Guide for young people looking for work. The information in the guide comes directly from the interviews with employers carried out by young people as part of the project.