The more education young people have, the more willing they are to work for free

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Half (49%) of all young people are willing to work for free to get on the jobs ladder, according to a unique research project from recruitment experts Adecco looking into Britain’s youth unemployment crisis.

The survey of 16-24 years olds across the UK found that almost half (47%) of all young people will do any job that is available, contradicting accusations that they are an ‘entitled generation’. 95% of 16-24 year olds believe there is stigma attached to being an unemployed young person.

The survey found that the higher the level of education the more willing young people are to work for free (38% – GCSE; 50% – AS level; 54% – A levels; undergraduate – 60%; post graduate – 68%).

The research also uncovered the battle for jobs that young people across the UK face:

  • Over two thirds (69%) applied for up to ten jobs within the last 12 months
  • A third of young people (32%) applied for more than ten jobs
  • Over one in seven (14%) has applied for over 20 jobs

The research also revealed how tough it can be to secure an interview. Over one in seven young people (13%) have never been invited to an interview despite sending out applications. For over half (54%), they are invited to interview for just one in every ten applications they send out.

The research sheds light on some of the issues why some young people may be struggling to get on the employment ladder. Over a third (35%) didn’t complete any work experience at school – but one in eight (12%) said that this was because they had no interest in doing so.

According to Alex Fleming, Managing Director, Adecco: “Our research has shown that for many young people, lack of work experience is holding them back. In our study, over half (54%) of young people cited lack of work experience as the main reason for rejection at interview stage. Many are finding the struggle to get onto the employment ladder so difficult that they are willing to work for free to gain quality work experience. This is unfair.

“Young people deserve quality work experience. Employers need to be more engaged in education and work closely with schools so that young people enter the jobs market having already had valuable work placements. Parents also need to play their part by not only demanding schools provide work experience placements, but also ensure that their children take up the opportunity. Then more young people will be entering the job market with the skills they need to secure paid employment.”

While the struggle for a job may be beyond the control of many young people, the research also found that there are many areas in which young people could do better to equip themselves for the employment market:

  • One in ten (11%) had themselves to blame for being unsuccessful at interview citing either being late, poor presentation or attire or not turning up to the interview at all
  • More than one in ten (13%) GCSE-aged students were rejected for a job because they were late for their interview
  • A quarter (24%) thought they lacked interview practice and 16% thought they lacked CV writing skills

Alex Fleming, Managing Director, Adecco added: “Young people need to seek out advice to equip themselves with the right skills. Basic steps like getting CVs right, and doing well at interview, are pre-requisites to getting a job. Our team of recruitment consultants are going onto the streets this Wednesday in over 50 countries, as well as visiting universities and colleges across Europe, as part of our Way to Work campaign to ensure young people have the tools they need to be as attractive as possible to employers. Unless the young are given the necessary tools to improve their employability, Britain will struggle to compete globally.”

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