Editors Pick

Why you need to have a happy workforce

26th April 2024

Introducing the Shadow Pledge

Finito World

The employment market can be a bewildering place for hirers and job-seekers alike, As a rule, the people who leave school, college and university who know exactly what they want to do are lucky – and rare. Not everyone can be a doctor, an architect or a lawyer where the path is set, and the profession regulated to make life easier for the entrant.

The rest of us are encouraged to apply for internships and work experience – and we do so in droves adding to the general confusion. This is highly competitive and, although the Old Boys’ network is not as powerful as it once was, the chances of success still all too often revolve around who you know. Of course the difficulty works the other way as well. Employers routinely point to recruitment as one of the most difficult areas of business. Organising work experience placements requires time that many small employers simply do not have.

Given that today’s workers are likely to need two or three careers with reskilling and lifelong learning becoming the norm, the fight to get experience or even find out what is out there will become even more important. With AI increasingly involved in the job application process, candidates are often left rejected, dejected and without really knowing whether the job would have been right for them in the first place. Employers may be screening out the best person for the job who has an amazing attitude to work because they do not tick all the algorithmic boxes.

But what if we did this another way? At Finito, we always encourage candidates to select a minimum of three separate career paths. This focus is best tested by shadowing someone in the sector to check rigorously their suitability and commitment. This is why Finito has decided to join forces with the MP for Stroud Siobhan Baillie and campaign for the Shadow Pledge.

The brainchild of Finito CEO Ronel Lehmann, the Shadow Pledge is a simple idea: anybody over 18 years old can shadow someone who is employed, and most workers can spend that time with a Shadow without it negatively impacting their week. While there are strict HMRC rules about payment for internships and work experience, under this scheme there will be no requirement for funding, remuneration or travel expenses because the candidate is simply shadowing.

The benefits of this are innumerable. There is no need for parental chaperoning, extensive risk assessments or insurance issues (save that certain roles such as manufacturing, engineering or jobs involving children may still require additional steps). It would be up to the employer to set the rules and requirements like providing a CV in advance. The simpler for all involved, the better.

As a result of the Shadow Pledge, people of all ages will be able to gain a new sense of understanding about the workplace and opportunities at the right time in their lives to foster ambition.  Meanwhile, employers will acquire not only the pleasures of short term mentoring but also advance knowledge of potential candidates and spot key employability skills that a computer may miss.  The Shadow Pledge will enable us to shape and win the future of work.

This is why we’re asking all businesses pledge to offer up to half a day of shadowing every year for all levels of their team: normal time in the life of CEOs, secretaries, HR assistants, plumbers, teachers, drivers, journalists, MPs, dentists, supermarket managers – including the boring bits. For the rest of us, the request is that we normalise shadowing.  We can start encouraging everybody to ask for shadow placements whether or not there are jobs going at the time and regardless of background and lack of connections.

This would amount to a major shift in our work culture, and it’s one which is badly needed. It will provide an important flexibility for job-seekers and employers alike. Happily the idea has already met with some high-profile endorsements. The legendary Rob Halfon MP endorsed the idea, even while he was Minister for Skills and Apprenticeships. Meanwhile, the Rt Hon The Lord Mayor, Professor Michael Raymond Mainelli (Alderman) has offered Mansion House to get the square mile engaged. The Department for Work and Pensions has also shown considerable interest in the idea.

We live in a world of too much regulation where people feel stymied by lack of opportunity. The Shadow Pledge is an idea intended to connect us and it is on the basis of this connectivity that the will should be built. This is the way to start to do that and we commend the idea to our readers.


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