ISS UK Limited – ISS Youth Employability

The Jaguar Land Rover Inspiring Young Talent Award, Highly Commended 2015, Reaccredited 2016.

ISS has developed a coherent five-stage strategy to inform, inspire, guide, recruit and develop young people, bringing them closer to the labour market and providing them with employability skills.

What the judges thought

  • The programme demonstrated a comprehensive end-to-end approach, from attracting right through to managing young talent, which other companies could learn from.
  • There was clear engagement from the whole company in solving this real business issue, from the board right down to the employees engaging with parents.
  • There was an admirable focus on working in unemployment hotspots and offering the living wage, which could be a game changer for the sector.

Social and business impacts

  • The ISS Youth Employability programme helped young people with potential become included in the labour market.
  • Young people developed both hard and soft skills, making them more employable.
  • The programme provided sustainable employment, leading to lifelong learning and development.
  • ISS made savings of around £32,500 per year on recruitment costs and team building activities.
  • Client/customer relationships were improved through the delivery of joint initiatives which demonstrated the company's competitive advantage, encouraged contract retention and attracted potential new clients.
  • Employee engagement has increased, leading to excellent customer service and improved customer satisfaction.

Facilities services company ISS developed a Youth Employability strategy that provides several different ways into the business for young people from a variety of backgrounds.

Defusing the demographic time bomb

With 35% of their workforce over the age of 50, ISS was facing a demographic time bomb. The company needed fresh talent but knew that facilities management lacks visibility when young people are making career choices. At the same time, they were concerned about the employment prospects for young people and wanted to do something to help.

Youth Employability is a five-stage strategy designed to inform, inspire, guide, recruit and develop young people, bringing them closer to the labour market and providing them with the skills to enhance their employability.

The strategy creates many different entry points for young people, all interconnected. These include apprenticeships, youth employment programmes, sector based skills academy and a graduate management programme.

At the same time, ISS works with schools to help inspire young people to start thinking about their future. Careers advice and work placements improve young people’s employability skills and allow them to make more informed choices. They also help to raise the profile of an industry not typically recognised by young people. The hope is that, in time, these young people may apply for jobs with ISS.

Opening the talent pipeline

The company has taken steps towards fairer recruitment, working with BITC to ensure that recruitment methods are not unknowingly excluding young people.

When a young person joins the company, there is a culture of learning and development to help them progress in their careers. For example, Early Careers is a Graduate Management Programme designed to develop future leaders and feed into a talent pipeline. Alongside practical work experience, these young people are mentored by senior management and trained through learning and development programmes that foster continuous lifelong learning.

ISS introduced a UK graduate programme in 2010 and followed this with apprenticeships. These ran alongside school engagement activities which evolved into a programme of work inspiration placements. In 2014, a Youth Employability strategy was created to bring these strands together in a structured development pathway for young people and embed the programmes into ISS culture.

Over 2,000 young people have been involved at various stages of the programme, and young people aged 16–24 now make up 10% of the total workforce.

What ISS UK and Ireland's CEO said:

“At ISS we have an important role to play in raising the profile of the sector as an attractive place to work, offering pathways to give young people positive experience of the world of work, ensuring there are no barriers in the recruitment process and offering entry to a long term and varied career through our five-stage Youth Employability Strategy. Our aim? To support our business strategy with fresh young talent, to bring young people into meaningful employment and to make FM a career of choice, not of chance.” - Richard Sykes, CEO, ISS UK and Ireland