‘People stereotype you: ‘Why are you unemployed? Why aren’t you doing anything? Haven’t you got any skills?’
Kerri is a young woman who left university after losing her mother when she was 21. Since the death of her mother, Kerri has acted as a carer for her young sister. As a result of this turbulent time, Kerri experienced 8 months of unemployment. She defines herself as motivated, resilient and unstoppable. Her resilience, with the help of the Young Women’s Trust’s coach programme, led finally to an apprenticeship and then to a job. In her video she talks about the stigma related to unemployment and the lack of a proper support from the Job Centre.
Read Kerri’s blog here: Thesoutheastlondonblogger
‘I personally felt like there was a stigma attached to being unemployed. That’s a label that you feel stereotyped with. I was unemployed for eight months. I applied for about 200 jobs online. There were days where I felt really down. Young Women’s Trust has helped me greatly. I was assigned a personal coach who talked to me through the telephone and helped me improve my confidence. Young Women’s Trust is unique in that it is centered on young women who face the same issues I faced.’
What is the government’s current policy on young people’s unemployment?
The youth unemployment rate currently stands at 15.6%, considerably higher than the national rate of 5.6%. The government wants to encourage more young people to go into apprenticeships in order to gain the skills and training needed to enter fulltime employment. In addition to this, they have encouraged young people to participate in voluntary programmes to help broaden their skills and experience.
The main governmental organization that provides job seeking services to the unemployed is the Job Centre. The job centres’ purpose is to offer advisory services to those looking for work and schemes to help develop their skills and experience. A ‘back to work plan’ will be created for those who turn to the job centre for help.
What are the issues with this approach?
Many people feel that the government’s current schemes do not go far enough to tackle the issue of youth unemployment. The Job Centre has come under heavy criticism for what many perceive to be a lack of support, particularly for young people. Many young people are turning to charities to provide the support they feel the government is failing to give them, yet many young people are left without any support at all. The feeling among many young people is that the job centre is no longer fit for purpose and is failing to aid them through the transition into employment. Campaigners believe that the approach of the job centre is to process people as quickly as possible in order to meet timing targets. As a result of this, staff at the centres fail to talk to young people about barriers to employment such as mental health problems and young people don’t feel as though they are given the opportunity to open up. Because the Job Centre provides everyone with the same services, it fails to take into account specific issues that can face young people, particularly young women. Opportunities to gain experience are limited and mainly in the retail sector further reducing the opportunities for young people to develop their potential.
The job centre must modernize and adapt if they are to effectively help young people into employment and help reduce the unemployment rate. This includes spending more time with those who come for help, offering tailored advisory services and a broader range of voluntary schemes.