Whitbread and CBI call for businesses to support school leavers

Young people are showing a strong desire and determination when planning ahead for their careers, according to ComRes research launched today by Whitbread and the Confederation of British Industry.

It found positive trends about their levels of research, amount of longer-term ambition, and high uptake and value of work experience schemes, and highlighted the critical role for businesses in supporting school leavers (16-19 year olds) as they transition into full-time employment.

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The key findings are:

  • 81 per cent say that they have given considerable thought to their future career with as many as 59 per cent thinking four or more years ahead;
  • 58 per cent say that having a future management role is important to them;
  • The opportunity for promotion is an important factor in choosing a career with 86 per cent stating they would be more likely to work for an employer who could set out a clear path of career progression;
  • Nine out of ten school leavers suggest that they are willing to take on further study or training while in work to help them get ahead.

Andy Harrison, CEO of Whitbread, says: “This is a clear message that business needs to step up and invest more time and effort in reaching out to the next generation of employees, managers and leaders. 

“The next generation are telling us that they are very positive about their future work prospects and would welcome more engagement and support from business. This is a pool of future talent that we should be embracing before they even enter the workplace, helping them to fulfil their ambitions.”

The survey of 1,500 16-19 year olds in the UK also found that, when it comes to finding out information about work and careers:

  • Online career websites are the most popular source with 69 per cent saying that they go online to research potential careers;
  • The vast majority (93 per cent) suggest that they have received advice about careers while in school or college;
  • However, only 31 per cent say they have received jobs or careers advice from employers. Of those that have received advice from employers the overwhelming majority (90 per cent) said it was a useful source of information.

John Cridland, Director General of the CBI, says: Young people expect businesses to step up and show them the career opportunities on offer and a clear idea on how they can progress in their career. Employers are doing some great work on the ground, but we need to get more firms involved. Many young people are worried about making their first steps outside the school gates and it’s clear that the more exposure to the world of work they get early on, from advice to work experience, the better for them.

“The careers advice system is in a perilous state and letting young people down. It’s vital that more firms engage but to achieve this we need a fresh approach to careers in schools. The Government must ensure that the new careers company has the resources it needs to transform provision.”

The research also considered the value of work experience placements and found:

  • 80 per cent said they had undertaken work experience whilst they were at school or college;
  • Those who had are likely to have thought harder about their career options with 82 per cent claiming that their work experience helped them gain a better understanding of the world of work;
  • 76 per cent said that their work experience had helped them develop the skills needed in the workplace;
  • 68 per cent say their work experience had helped them to decide on a career pathway.

Tanja Kuveljic, CEO at charity, Believe in Young People, adds:  “We are one of Whitbread’s partners in helping to bring the world of work into the classroom and we know from experience that this approach is crucial in building confidence and helping young people to prepare for employment.

“If more of this kind of intervention can be done, I know that we will be building more productive future employees and leaders.”

Whitbread’s WISE programme. ‘Whitbread Investing in Skills & Employment’ was launched in 2012 and is focused on educating and employing people who are often from difficult backgrounds. The programme focuses on three key areas: 


  • 1,068 apprenticeships have been completed to date and 826 people are currently working towards an apprenticeship.
  • Whitbread offers Level 1 through to Level 7 and is an accredited provider with a Good Ofsted ranking.
  • Whitbread is targeting 6,000 apprenticeships by 2020 and recently announced the launch of the first-ever Costa Apprenticeship programme. This programme will provide an Intermediate Apprenticeship in Customer Service and Barista Skills, equivalent to 5 GCSEs.

Work Experience Placements

  • Aimed at young people aged 11- 18 years old Whitbread has delivered over 2,700 placements for school and college students
  • Whitbread is targeting 7,500 work experience placements by 2020

Adult Work Placements 

  • Aimed at supporting people, particularly NEETs (Not in Employment, Education or Training) to get into work, over 2,900 placements have been delivered to date.
  • 60 per cent of people attending a work experience go on to gain a job with the company.
  • Whitbread is targeting 6,500 adult work placements by 2020.

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