The effects of rapid automation on recruitment have been disastrous for young people looking for work and have cut businesses off from talented candidates.

Writing in the Financial Times, Margaret Heffernan, businesswoman, CEO mentor, and professor of practice at Bath University, blamed algorithms for being targeted at building traffic for websites rather than accurately matching skills with available jobs.

She added that automated recruitment practices were contributing to the advent of a generation of young people “struggling to pay bills and to make their contribution”, which was putting social cohesion at risk.

Heffernan’s comments come against a backdrop of renewed concern over the numbers of economically inactive young people in the UK, with the Resolution Foundation pointing out that the UK’s employment rate had gone into reverse when set against other leading countries.

The latest government figures show that the number of young people in employment in November 2023 to January 2024 fell by 190,000 compared with the previous year, to 3.66 million.

The number who are economically inactive (not in or looking for work) increased by 248,000 compared to the previous year, to 2.96 million.

The inactivity rate for young people was 41.6%, up from 38.5% in the previous year. In November to January, there was a 4.5% increase in the youth economic inactivity rate among people aged 16-24, compared with the same period a year earlier.

Heffernan’s FT article cited a 2021 Harvard Business School study which showed that 90% of employers were using automated tracking software to sift through applications, even though most acknowledged that those systems vetted out qualified candidates because they didn’t precisely match the criteria in the job description.

She said the use of automation to attract candidates was “a terrible business model that values high traffic and time spent on site over accuracy. But of course, the applicants aren’t the customers – advertisers are.”

Those who succeeded in getting through to the next of an unknown number of rounds then often faced tests or interviews with bots that provided no feedback.

A lucky few young people had parents or friends who could help place them with employers. But most job seekers were exposed to a process that taught them nothing apart from the message that “the world doesn’t care about them”.

She added: “After months of searching, they feel humiliated and utterly alienated from the world of work, before they’ve even started. It is the most dehumanising process I have ever encountered. And I once worked in a call centre.”

Original Article: Personneltoday

Automated recruitment: alienating youth, hindering businesses. Time for a human touch. Prioritize the recruitment of top talent and ensure long-term success in a dynamic and evolving business landscape. For all your recruitment challenges – contact our HR & digital recruitment specialist Gareth Allison on 02920 620702

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