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Katy Jones
Katy  Jones

The task of young jobseekers-a worrying report from the JRF

Authors: Katy Jones Katy Jones

17 October 2012

A new report  ‘A job in itself: the thankless task for young unemployed people looking for work’, published today ( 17 October)  by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation provides a worrying account of the experiences of young jobseekers in what is ‘one of the toughest jobs markets in decades’.

The report highlights how young people today face intense competition in their job search, and that this can be even tougher for those who face additional barriers such as limited access to transport and the internet. Responses to 2,000 fictional applications (or lack of responses- over two thirds received no response at all) exposed the difficulties faced by even those with five good GCSEs and relevant work experience in their attempts to access low wage, entry-level jobs as sales assistants, cleaners, office administrators and kitchen hands. If young people do manage to find employment, low wages and underemployment are common features.

We know that the geography of youth unemployment varies considerably across the UK and that the level of demand for labour is much weaker in some areas. Our report Off the map? The geography of NEETs showed the huge local variations in the number of young people who were NEET (not in employment education or training) which exceeds 20 per cent in places such as Doncaster and Grimsby. This new research offers a picture of competition in the labour market, showing that in weaker labour markets an average of ten applicants can chase each vacancy.

‘A Job in Itself’ highlights how even where young people are prepared to travel substantial distances to work, they are competing with those who live closer. Employers interviewed as part of this new research expressed preferences for candidates with easy journeys to work, causing young jobseekers reliant on public transport to be at a particular disadvantage. Research by The Work Foundation with young long term unemployed people also found transport to be a barrier for some young jobseekers- and we will soon publish a new report which explores further how policymakers can address this problem as part of our Missing Million programme of research.


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