Web forum: Employment opportunities for young people

As part of our inquiry on employment opportunities for young people, the Work and Pensions Committee would like to hear about your experiences in our web forum. This will help us understand the challenges faced and focus our inquiry on the key issues.

Get involved

If you're 16-24 and have personal experience of using careers guidance, Jobcentre Plus, or even just looking for a job, we want to hear from you.

The web forum closes on Friday 30 September 2016.

Answer one or more of the following questions below:

  • Do you feel that the careers advice and guidance (including access to work experience) that you have received in school/college/university has been adequate to prepare you for employment?  How could it be improved?
  • How could your experience of using Jobcentre Plus be improved? This might include the quality of advice that you were given via Jobcentre Plus, or how comfortable you felt accessing and using the services, for example.
  • The Government's 'National Living Wage' was introduced in April 2016, but is only available to workers over the age of 25. What effect do you feel this has had on your experiences of employment?

We also ask that you include your age and tell us if you're a) employed, b) unemployed and looking for work, or c) unemployed and not looking for work at the moment.

Comments will be used to inform the Committee’s thinking on this issue. This forum is pre-moderated and comments that breach the online discussion rules will not be posted.

This forum is now closed.

Image: PA

54 Responses to Post a comment on employment opportunities for young people

John Rycroft says:
September 16, 2016 at 03:47 PM
How could your experience of using Jobcentre Plus be improved?
It could be improved by rewarding staff for helping people find work/apprenticeship instead of rewarding them for sanctioning people for the harshest of reasons (Genuinely disabled, had a doctor appointment etc.) and leaving them completely destitute and potentially homeless.

The Government's 'National Living Wage' was introduced in April 2016, but is only available to workers over the age of 25. What effect do you feel this has had on your experiences of employment?

Firstly, it is NOT a LIVING WAGE it is a MINIMUM WAGE, the living wage is a term that describes the wage needed to live comfortably and rises with inflation, the minimum wage is a minimum wage. "The living wage is now set at £9.15 an hour in London and £7.85 an hour in the rest of the UK. By comparison, the national minimum wage is significantly lower." - The BBC. The government has hijacked this word to make themselves sound better just like they did with the term child poverty. Disgusting and sickening.

But onto my actual response to the question, as a 23 year old who has been working for 5 years and is estranged from my mother and who's father is dead, who pays the rent for his flat and all the bills that come with it, while simultaneously studying for a degree at extortionate rates, I was completely, completely outraged by the news that the government was raising the minimum wage except for under 25 year olds. A full time student cannot receive housing benefit, and a full time worker can only earn it for a single room in shared accommodation. With no extraneous support to pay the rent, under 25 year olds that are independent are expected to pay extortionate private rents while earning only £6.70 an hour!!!! In my area, I would be expected to work 100 HOURS to just cover the rent, not including bills or even council tax. Regardless of the fact that a young person doing THE SAME JOB as an older person should get THE SAME WAGE.

It is my opinion that this deliberate attack on young people combined with a tripling of university fees, the removal of maintenance grants and housing benefits has been a huge factor in the 55% rise in homelessness that the Conservatives have overseen under their governance. The only reason that I'm not homeless, let alone able to study for a degree is because while working 25 hours a week and studying full time, I also share the rent with my partner. If I was single I would be HOMELESS!

The short version, it's a perverse and degrading form of social engineering, enabling young people who don't have the ability to stay with their parents to slip through the cracks, feeding homelessness, crime and incarceration/severe mental health issues.
Ieuan Cox says:
September 16, 2016 at 12:55 PM
My first job was as an agency hospitality worker. I took the job as a 16 year old, straight after finishing my GCSEs. My usual pay was £4 an hour despite working as hard, if not harder, than many colleagues earning far higher salaries simply because of their age. Those over 21 earned over 1.5 times what I did for exactly the same work. This effect has been exaggerated my the new so-called 'Living Wage' so that young workers and treated even more unfairly. Such a system alienates young people, puts them off working, and increases social inequality. The policy should be revisited and rectified as soon as possible to make it fairer for young workers.
mark jones says:
September 15, 2016 at 09:45 PM
I am a union rep and believe in equality for workers of all ages, wage discrimination over age has no part in the real world. upon leaving school in 1974 the careers guidance I got was very poor and to enhance my prospects I became a trade union activist and enroled on home study and local college courses- do not mistreat 18-24yr olds the same way we were mistreated and poorly advised in the 1970's
Anthony Filgate says:
September 15, 2016 at 07:18 PM
Some people live away from home, pre-21 years of age, therefore for those people the lower wage for under 21s is really unfair and unhelpful.
Scott Houghton says:
September 15, 2016 at 05:36 PM
What effect do you feel not including 18-24 year olds in the national living wage has had on your experiences of employment?

I feel that the effect of not including 18 to 24 year old's in the national living wage is completely unfair. Does someone from the ages of 18 to 24 not work as hard as someone who is 32 or 58? Of course not. They should be paid equally and fairly for the fruits of their labour.
It creates a feeling that they have less value than other people. Human beings are not valueless because they are younger. This also comes at a time when many young people, especially graduates, are forced to work for free or for very little money in internships - this is a disadvantage especially to people from poorer backgrounds who can't get mummy or daddy to pay for everything for them, and instead have to rely on wages to at least attempt to try and earn a decent living whilst they try and do something more. Work should equal fair pay.

Do you feel that the careers advice and guidance you have received in school/college/university has been adequate to prepare you for employment? How could it be improved?

I am at university now and have not yet experienced careers advice here yet. However I found college wholly inadequate in providing advice for people who didn't want to go into higher education after A-levels. I suspect this was to push many people into university and thus to make the college sound better "99% of applicants go onto uni!" etc. I know of many people who ended up going to university when really it wasn't in their best interests too.

At school it was completely inadequate and verged on non-existent. I come from a poor area, and the only kind of advice given was on the jobs everyone knows they do not want to do. It was never even contemplated by many that they could go on to achieve something better themselves, partly because of bad careers advice in the latter stages of secondary school and partly on the usual poor schools/ areas which zap self-worth and confidence out of you.

This could be improved by actually investing in communities through an investment bank of some sort; which is perfectly in line with mainstream, if not typically neoliberal, economics. Places need investment and hope to thrive, something that pompous Toryism cannot understand.

How could your experience of using Jobcentre Plus be improved?

It could start by not demeaning and degrading peoples self worth from the moment you enter, however I suspect that is for a reason. It could be improved by, as I said in the previous answer, investing and therefore giving hope to people to achieve something. Then you would have less need for the Jobcentre.
Russ James says:
September 15, 2016 at 05:09 PM
The careers advice and guidance I received was minimal and basic, focusing mainly on very short term goals and only given in the last year pf secondary school. The guidance should be more comprehensive and and should occur throughout education. The advice and guidance I received in college was more helpful and structured but still limited in scope and minimally provided.

My experience of the seperate wage brackets even before the Living Wage was introduced (and even more so afterwards) is that in results in people being paid different amounts for exactly the same work simply because of their age. In my opinion there should only be seperate pay rates when it is demonstratable that the workers are of different levels of competence or efficiency. Just because younger workers (generally) have fewer expenses does not mean their work is worth less than that of someone who may only be a few years older.
Jessica Bartholomew says:
September 15, 2016 at 04:05 PM
I think that leaving under 24s out of the national living wage program is a cop-out by the governement because most over 24s are earning more than minimum wage anyway.
At school we were not given specific enough jobs education and we were never taught how to do our own taxes, which has left us in a bad position.
Oscar says:
September 15, 2016 at 03:53 PM
Whilst some employers have been fair and pay equally - regardless of age - off of their own back, the fact that others don't is bothering. People should be paid on the amount of work they do, and I have worked jobs previously where I have worked more and had more responsibilty than my older co-workers, but am being paid less on the basis that I fall into the 18-25 bracket. I also find it ridiculous that the "living wage" is only available to 25+ despite the fact that even with a student loan - I require my wage to afford the outrageous student rent prices.
teresa stuart says:
September 15, 2016 at 03:30 PM
I signed the petition to pay young people the same wage as older workers. Peoples time is worth the same regardless of age. If the job is being done the same as older people pay should be the same.this also tells our young people they are as valuable as the rest of society and they will also then be able to pay more income and purchase tax and contribute more to our necessary public services. I am actually over 60. You assumed that only 16-24 year olds would care about this
Kim Thornton says:
September 15, 2016 at 02:36 PM
How can it be right that some people earn half what others earn for the same work? These are not children, they are adults.