British youth: a generation living without predictability or security
OECD warns that youth joblessness is Britain’s biggest challenge
Poor numeracy and literacy
However, employers often complain bitterly about the quality of candidates coming before them. The candidates often display poor numeracy and literacy, even if they have qualifications, and sometimes a poor work ethic.
Under pressure, the Conservatives/ Liberal Democrats coalition displayed a double-edged sword — offering apprenticeships and voluntary work experience and a £2,275 lump sum to employers for taking one of them on but sanctions for those young people who refused to sign up.
However, the efforts became reputationally catastrophic for some of the firms that got involved, since they were accused of exploiting the desperate by offering unpaid, menial work that offered few tangible benefits. Former Marks and Spencer chief Stuart Rose, who began life stacking shelves and sweeping floors, was among leading businessmen who urged employers to stand up to the campaign waged against them, but many thought the battle not worthwhile.
Opinion is divided bitterly about the success or otherwise of work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith’s decision to bring private companies on board to find work for candidates and paying them only if they succeed in doing so.
The plan has worked better for younger people than it has for the older unemployed or those on incapacity benefits — the private contractors are just a little behind in their targets for under-25s but lagging seriously in every other category.
Last week, however, chancellor of the exchequer George Osborne appeared to move away from Duncan Smith’s ideas, preferring to demand more from job-centre staff — proposing much greater contact between them and under-25s in search of work.
For graduates the situation is better but still challenging: 50 are applying for each vacancy, according to industry research published last weekend — though the number of jobs available is at its highest for five years. Four hundred thousand graduates left college last year.
Men more likely to be unemployed
Male graduates were more likely to be unemployed than women graduates six months after graduation, though the men who got jobs were better paid. Dental and medical graduates were all employed, while more than one in 10 with creative arts degrees were not. More surprisingly, one in seven of those who had studied computer science were still without work.
However, competition often requires graduates to accept posts below their qualifications – or below their expectations — while more than a third of the posts available are in the southeast of England, as a result of its economic dominance. Too often, people do not want to move to take up work.