One of the areas I have researched as an intern at Nesta, is policy recommendations aimed at reducing youth unemployment. This blog explores a few of the more interesting recommendations in light of my own recent experience.
One of the areas I have researched as an intern at Nesta is policy recommendations aimed at reducing youth unemployment. This blog explores a few of the more interesting recommendations in light of my own recent experience.
When I graduated from university last year, I held the naïve belief that everything I'd heard about the jobs market was a myth.
I had every faith that a degree and a strong work ethic would lead me to the secure arms of a fulltime employer in no time.
Ten months, five interviews and two internships later, a world weary, dime a dozen, unemployed graduate remains.
At university, I did my best to build up a good CV and develop those all-important 'transferable skills', and I had a job in the holidays. So with a clear conscience I began to tackle the big question of what to do with the rest of my life, whilst failing to grasp what graduating in a recession actually meant.
What evaded me was that youth unemployment has a 'scarring effect' on earnings later on in life. Six months of youth unemployment can reduce earnings by between 13 and 21% as much as 20 years later. The longer the unemployment, the greater the scars[i]. Learning this fact has already cost me a few sleepless nights, but I am doing all I can to find a job, so what practical policy solutions exist to protect a generation some are already writing off as a 'lost generation' from becoming lost?
Having undertaken research in this area, below are some recommendations and analysis, with reflections from my own experience.
1. Centre for Economic and Social Inclusion: High quality career services are critical; therefore the government should set clear standards schools must meet.[ii]
Reality: High-quality career advice for those leaving education at 16 is imperative. But the reality for many young people, including myself, is that access this service is needed later on. I needed such a service about three months after I graduated, precisely at the point where I could not access a high-quality career service for love nor money. Thus good accessible careers services need to be available to all 16 - 24 year olds.
2. DEMOS: Make one-to-one job search advice mandatory after three months of unemployment for young people and after two months for those deemed at risk.[iii]
Reality: One-to-one job search advice should be mandatory from the start, after a young person has had their initial signing on meeting. People want to get back into employment in their chosen field as soon as possible and such a tailored service could reduce the unemployment period greatly.
3. Centre for Economic and Social Inclusion: Introduce a universal youth credit, extending the remit to include 16 and 17 year olds so that they are entitled to the same benefits as 18 - 24 year olds. This would also be paid to all learners in families with low incomes, with the incentive to stay in education[iv].
Reality: It seems only fair that 16 and 17 year olds undertaking the same types of employment as 18 - 24 year olds should be entitled to the same benefits. What would be excellent is if this universal youth credit simplified the system for 16 - 24 years olds. I know from my own experience that the system is very complex. Therefore greater access to a simplified system can only be a good thing.
All three of the aforementioned recommendations, if taken up by government, would have a positive impact on helping youth unemployment. However, I would like to sign off with some thoughts about barriers that need addressing, born out of my own experience of seeking work.
[iv] http://www.cesi.org.uk/sites/default/files/publications/Young_people_and_unemployment_FINAL.pdf, p54.
[v] Nesta as a company make it their policy to pay all their interns the living wage. An interesting read on the topic of paying interns is the report 'Why Interns Deserve A Fair Wage'