Students believe employers expect too much from school leavers
Half of young people say greater international competition for jobs contributes to the difficulty in securing work

Nearly one in three (30 per cent) 16-18 year olds expect to wait over a year to secure a job after leaving full-time education, according to a study.

Amid concerns that academic success does not always bring with it opportunity in the job market, Young Enterprise commissioned the study to examine the challenges facing the next generation and preventing them from gaining the employment opportunities they deserve.

The UK’s high youth unemployment figures (13.6 per cent for October to December 2015) continue to lag behind comparable European economies such as Germany and Denmark (7 per cent and 9 per cent respectively).

These figures are symptomatic of a wider inability to properly prepare Britain’s young people for skilled employment in the global world of work, and contribute to the UK’s poor productivity record, the research suggests.

Half of young people (50 per cent) say greater international competition for jobs contributes to the difficulty in securing work, while 46 per cent still blame the ongoing impact of the recession, saying that there are fewer jobs available. 

Unequal opportunities for young people from different social backgrounds is also raised, with 16 per cent highlighting that unpaid internships are only accessible to individuals from high-income families. This is a reminder that for many working class students, the route to securing the necessary part-time or voluntary internships to enter certain career paths is financially problematic and unrealistic.

Young people are acutely aware of the difficulties of securing work after finishing full-time education, with nearly half (47 per cent) recognising that an academic education alone is not enough to secure a professional job.

Many of those surveyed feel unprepared for a seamless transition into the job market, with 58 per cent of young people believing they will struggle to secure work due to not getting enough experience of work or education in entrepreneurship.

A further 31 per cent feel they are not being taught the necessary key employment skills required in the workplace such as teamwork, confidence and problem solving, while a third (33 per cent) of students say they are not given enough guidance and consultation when choosing their career. 

These findings underline the problems that young people face in accessing proper key skills training and advice on how best to apply themselves to a career.

Michael Mercieca, chief executive of Young Enterprise, says that youth unemployment has been a blight on the lives of millions of young people across the UK for too long.

‘It brings with it serious financial and social implications both for the individuals and for wider economic productivity and growth. Academic attainment is only part of the journey to building a well-rounded individual and workforce.

‘Our research has found that young people are seriously concerned with how they will attain the necessary skill sets to enter and succeed in the world of work.’

Mercieca adds that young people don’t need sympathy and rhetoric, they need opportunity to learn, not ‘guidance’ and ‘sign-posting’.

‘It is essential that schools, charities and businesses work together in a long-term, national programme to ensure that all young people have the opportunity to develop these essential character skills and gain experience of work and entrepreneurism, no matter what their financial background.’

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