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Youth: the secret weapon businesses are missing

Young people have been in the news a fair bit recently, what with Rishi Sunak's theoretical plans to herd them off to national service once they turn 18 (can you think of another age group it would EVER be acceptable to do that to?). Soon GSCE and A level results will be the talk of the front pages with the usual never-ending national conversation about whether the courses are too easy or too hard and the university entrance rates and just generally whether the education system is going to the dogs...

In my experience as a business leader, young people are the most underrated demographic when it comes to today's workplace. My first employee was 14 when she started and she was with us for nearly 6 years (pictured above: her and I with her amazing final show piece for her art qualification). And I am in awe of today's young people. Here's why.

Young people are unbelievably fast learners. They have great memories and pick up skills quickly. Their brains are like sponges. Old habits die hard but teenagers in the workplace are forming their workplace habits for the first time.

Work ethic. Jobs, especially desirable jobs, are few and far between and young people are highly eager to please and work to a very high standard. They tend to be physically strong and resilient and their knees don't crack when they pick things off the floor.

Technological skills. Anything to do with our point of sale and our younger employees pick it up in minutes. Many a time I've been stumped with how to do something on Instagram or Whatsapp and one of our teenage employees has shown me in a matter of seconds.

Work culture. Older people have often been mistreated or picked up baggage along the way from toxic work cultures or horrible bosses. Younger people are impressionable, which, if you take your responsibility as a leader and employer seriously, is a very positive thing. They're a great asset to a team that may be a little jaded from past experiences and that's working on building a new, healthy culture.

Kindness and empathy. The increased conversation around mental health, feelings and well-being means that young people can be very empathetic which makes them great team players. They can also be quite self-aware of their own mental health struggles and feel comfortable identifying these and seeking help with them. We could all learn a lot from this.

I feel a great responsibility when it comes to nurturing younger people in the workplace, and also an overwhelming thankfulness for everything they teach us each day and the creativity and positivity they exude. More employers would do well to consider them when looking for new hires. Even if they can't take on the same level of responsibilities as their more experienced colleagues, they can often lighten the load in several other practical ways to free more senior members of staff up to strategise and make decisions without their plates being too full.

Young people deserve just as much liberty to make their own choices and fulfill their own goals as any of the rest of us. And who knows, give them a chance and they just might be a key part of your business success. - helping you live your best life through the joy of cake!

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