Youth unemployment and personal debt

As unemployment figures and requirements for debt advice UK reach their highest since the early 1990’s, the two stats that are most regularly focused on are the number that have been unemployed for 12 months or more and the volume of under 25’s who are currently registered as unemployed.   For the record these two figures currently stand at 833,000 and 965,000 respectively.

  • So why is youth unemployment such a problem?

Well, for a start it leads to worrying headlines from newspapers (who should really know better) about ‘lost generations’ and it reinforces stereotypes about youngsters being lazy.

It also reflects a lack of new positions being created within the job market.  In times of economic difficulty, employers are less likely to take chances on less experienced staff, preferring to go with the fully-skilled employee who can deliver immediate results.  It is also likely that the experienced worker will be available for less, so they become a more attractive proposition.

Perhaps most worry is the fact that business leaders claim unemployment in the young is owing to the absence of genuine work skills from those leaving education at school, college and university.  Top of these claims include: an inability to perform simple mental arithmetic, a lack of inter-personal skills making dealing with the public impossible, (and from our university graduates) a real lack of marketable knowledge.  It appears that my BA (Hons) David Beckham Studies is useless after all.  Although it did include an entirely enjoyable module studying the life and times of The Spice Girls!

Increasingly UK Job Centres and careers counselors are advising the young and unemployed to undertake further training.  As budgets for this training reduce, the cost is often borne by the student themselves.  This return to education may reduce the volume of the young and unemployed in the short term, but in the long term will create a wave of people who return to the labour market, potentially still without those basic skills employers crave.

So if you are trapped in a cycle of unemployment what can you do to improve your situation?  Perhaps the first place to start is thinking about the type of job that you are looking for.  Is this something that you are fully qualified to do?  If so, have you just been unlucky? Or is it because you lack the practical experience?  Where this is the case, whilst it hurts to give away your skills for free, a period of volunteering can unlock doors.  The more commercial amongst you may even make an offer that provides a £zero salary, but will generate an income for you if you can bring in revenue from the work you do, or can clearly demonstrate how you have cut costs.

If you don’t really have the skills for your desired profession, then the decisions to be made are more drastic.  Firstly, are you being realistic in your expectations for a career?  And if not, do you need to complete some drastic retraining?  Whilst applying (and not getting) jobs can be depressing, it can be avoided if these roles were pipe dreams in the first place.  If you are being realistic, then maybe you need to consider falling back on a different career until prospects in your field improve.  The sarcastically inclined amongst you, may argue that this is why every Barrister is a writer and every waitress in London is a wannabe West End Actress!

  • Sarcastic, maybe… but you can see the logic of having a back-up career to help with debt and pay the bills.