Unemployment has been a key feature of economic turmoil in recent years and the focus of governmental policy worldwide, but there are some signs of improvement in new jobs being posted. Richard Miranda talks about the implications for his generation.
Out-of work young people have been of particular concern due to the well-documented consequences long-term youth unemployment can have on both the individuals themselves and society as a whole.
As a 24-year-old that graduated from university just as the recession was getting into full swing, I can testify to the difficulty of the job market for people my age. I’ve taken bar work to make ends meet and worked as a paid intern in order to get the experience necessary to gain further employment. I remember one instance where I applied for a job and was sent a letter of rejection that congratulated me on making it to the final 25 applicants out of 300. Bear in mind that this was a six-month contract for an entry-level position paying just above minimum wage. Among my friends this is not an isolated example.
I’ve been lucky in that I have not been unemployed for any substantial length of time, but after a year living in London I was forced to move back in with my parents as I could not afford it. I have since joined the ranks of the self-employed as I was finding permanent work either too difficult to get, or not suitable for what I wanted to do. With this being the case for a graduate, I can only imagine the immense difficulties facing young people who haven’t gone on to further education.
So although the recent figures are promising, we should not get our hopes up quite yet. The Director of Policy and Professional Services for the REC himself tempers the statistics by noting that there is a “need to address the disconnect between the skills employers are looking for and what job-seekers have to offer”.
Although youth unemployment in the UK has not reached the disastrous heights seen in Spain and Greece, where roughly half of all young people are out of work, it is still worryingly high here. As of November 2011, there are over one million 18-25 year olds out of work in the UK, the highest number since comparable records began in 1992. Measures have been taken to curb unemployment, but tackling this major dilemma is not proving to be a straightforward task.
So it comes as good news that the number of job positions posted in March rose at the highest rate in eight months, according to the Recruitment and Employment Confederation. As unemployment is tied to job creation, this is a promising sign. Of particular note is that the number of permanent positions has risen for three consecutive months. This is very positive, as until now a large proportion of jobs being created have only been part-time leaving many, although working, still underemployed.
The British economy is still struggling and showing little sign that it will revert to its pre-recession self any time soon. Its unpredictable nature will always make it difficult to create more jobs as a way of reducing youth unemployment. What is necessary is more investment in young people from an early age to help them develop key skills that make them employable. To do this on a large scale, a hard look is required at Britain’s current educational model. It must also be recognised that there is no quick fix – in order to implement the widespread, institutional change vital to curbing youth unemployment, a long-term strategy is crucial. Initiatives like the government’s new Youth Contract are positive first steps, but much more needs to be done. The issue of youth unemployment is extremely pressing, and must be clearly addressed if Britain is going to develop into a healthy society in the future.