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

Daniel Howell says:
September 15, 2016 at 01:43 PM
It is a nonsense that 16-24 year olds should not be entitled to the National Living Wage.Does a loaf of bread,a pint of milk or a gallon of petrol cost les if you are under 24?Young people are already restricted from claiming housing benefit,how are they expected to survive?
Simon Barsby says:
September 15, 2016 at 12:40 PM
Theresa May spoke of 'equality of opportunity' at PMQs the other day; how does keeping the minimum wage low for younger people square with this? This is ageism that should not be allowed, and would not be allowed so blatantly if it were aimed at older people - the idea that their potential needs are somehow less because of their age is ridiculous.
Jessica Bird says:
September 15, 2016 at 12:35 PM
I feel strongly about the new minimum wage, and feel that this should not be called the living wage by the government. As a 23year old woman who has no family support and has been independent from 18 years old, I am entirely dependant on my work and wages. I feel that it is discriminatory to younger people to not allow them to be on the same wage as people over 25. I have just as much need for the additional income, and really do not think it is fair. With cuts to maintenance grants, no more EMA, lack of support in acquiring housing, ridiculous estate agency fees, how is it possible for the next generation to do well for themselves and give back to the community? I would really like for the current minimum wage to be changed and for everyone over 18 to be treated equally. I am struggling to find accommodation for myself, and making ends meet and I feel like I am constantly hitting obstacles in my life that were not there for older generations. I understand that I may be a minority in this situation, but I am sure people my age feel similarly to me.
Kate S says:
September 15, 2016 at 12:31 PM
Aged 20, I have lived away from home since I was 17, meaning I have the same financial responsibilities as many other adults (rent, utilities, food etc.). It is unfair to suggest that workers aged under 25 are deserving of less pay than those 25+. Seeking work in the knowledge that positions which would otherwise pay the living wage will pay you less based on your age is demotivating.
Mairi says:
September 15, 2016 at 12:00 PM
I am a reasonably qualified 24-year-old, currently out of work due to a long term health condition although I am currently seeking work.
Under 25s earn significantly less than their older counterparts in some cases. The assumption seems to be that under 25s won't have the same responsibilities as over 25s but this is not the case. Typically jobs that pay the minimum wage are in more entry level jobs, bars, restaurants, retail and call centres. These jobs often have some of the poorer working conditions overall. An 18-year-old could work full time in a restaurant for 2 years, yet the 25-year-old that starts there could earn more than them on their first day. As the 18-year-old would be already knowing the workplace and the job, there's nothing to suggest they won't be able to carry out their job just as effectively, if not more effectively.
My experience of the jobs centre suggests a one size fits all approach is normally in place. It is assumed that if you are unemployed then this is because you can't write a CV or need interview skills, I have known people with these capabilities to be sent on courses to improve these skills on the same days they had interviews. This can lead to additional travel and inadequate time to prepare. I would suggest that some form of a tiered approach be considered to identify what support someone needs.
This could then take into account different factors such as their skills and experience, how long they have been out of work (if they have ever worked) and any additional barriers to work. Unless the reasons for unemployment are considered then it will be very difficult to address the actual issue. People leave jobs for a number of reasons, ill-health, caring commitments, redundancy, etc.
Long term unemployed people or unqualified young people might need benefit from careers advice from someone that could help discuss if any of their skills in their personal life are transferable. People who don't have formal qualifications or experience could be encouraged to take on a course (PT/FT). In some cases, I have known people who in their spare time have skills, however the job centre would advise them to apply for jobs they are obviously not qualified for. If someone has no formal qualifications the jobs centre is likely to tell them every week to apply for the same jobs they never hear back from. I consider this pointless and would suggest consideration is given to direct these people towards anything, part-time courses that could help upskill them, full-time education, etc.
There are issues with staff’s attitudes people based on their assumptions. Treating people rudely, doesn't help this situation, it adds to the low motivation and feelings of apathy caused by unemployment, which in some cases can eventually spiral into depression.
Louie Ablett says:
September 15, 2016 at 11:56 AM
I think careers advice should be more in depth, and have more than say - 1 session. There should be less pressure in schools to take academic subjects because while for myself and many others this is suitable, I also know many friends who would have benefited from more time spent discussing the technical colleges, the farming colleges, the mechanics courses etc.
Also many places push student to go strait to Uni after college. In this economy it is stupid to do this unless you either have enough money to pay for it outright or don't have any big life ambitions regarding obtaining high-earning/high expense lifestyles. The loans are great but many people live their lives trying not to earn too much money so as not to have to pay off the debt, which isn't a good way to start life.
More focus should be on individuality and how to make entrepreneurial change in whatever sector you wish to enter, how to make change and net a greater income than the average Joe or Sue, as so many people all take the same A levels, do the same degrees and then realise their high quality education doesn't get them anywhere and end up working at a supermarket for 10 years before getting a teaching job later on and regurgitating what their own tutor once taught them.
There is a vicious circle in education and I think by encouraging people to start their own business branches and get a steady income before later education would be a better idea for many of the poorer people in society, and encourage forward thinking and inspirational cultures to spring much more commonly from Society's youth.
Melanie Jenkin says:
September 15, 2016 at 11:55 AM
I am 23, employed in a private-sector marketing role.

My experiences and comments are as follows:-
- career advice in schools and colleges was limited when I was there, so much so that I had no idea what I wanted to do. I did not attend university until I was 21 whereby I attend online only as I need to work full-time. It could be improved by giving more attention to each individual, it's too generic and there is no attention to the individual student.
- job centre has a bad reputation. I've never used their service as their website is messy and the centre itself always too busy to help. I tried using the service with a friend to aid her in finding a job, it was not helpful.
- the national living wage excluding young people is an insult and shows the I appreciation this government have for the youth of today. I am fortunate enough to earn above the living wage due to a very fair employer. I have the knowledge and skills of someone older, so why does the government believe I should be paid less based on wage? this is inequality! I own a home (mortgaged) and pay tax contributions like anyone else is able to over 25, yet in other roles I would be eligible for less based on my age.

Inequality and ageism at its finest.
Richard Raybould says:
September 15, 2016 at 11:47 AM
The National Living Wage/Nation Minimum Wage.
In my Opinion my experience entail someone does exactly the same job as me and gets paid the national living wage and I get the national minimum wage. Why should someone who can do the same job gets paid less for doing exactly the same job?

Careers advice satisfactory.

Job Centre: less desicrimination of people with disabilities/ Atos assessments abolished, new acessements with properley qualified doctors. A Doctor is more qualified to give a diaognosis than a nurse.
Sophie Hall says:
September 15, 2016 at 11:29 AM
The "national living wage" introduction for over 25s has made me feel undervalued as a worker. When the change was introduced, older colleagues at the call centre where I was working received increases, despite the fact that we did identical work. That kind of discrimination is supposed to be illegal. I had even been working longer, and on more demanding projects than some of those who received a pay rise. I felt used and abused and utterly miserable because of it. This introduction allows employers to discriminate further against young people and makes us feel undervalued and inferior, despite the fact that we do the same work, have the same responsibilities and all pay the same bills as older people. In some cases more because of rules about housing support meaning young people are unable to access the right benefits. This change has added to the feeling that 18-24 year olds are a second class group of people, not worthy of the same treatment by the state as other working adults. This means young people have to take on more hours to cover their living expenses, driving down our quality of life, our mental and sometimes our physical health. Considering how low the minimum wage is already, it is cruel to add this gap for those under 25. The true living wage, as agreed independently by the national living wage foundation, is £8.25/hr, not the paltry excuse for a new minimum made up by the government. I'm frankly disgusted that the government has chosen once again to pander to businesses who are too greedy to pay their staff well, instead of protecting and serving the ordinary citizen by demanding a true living wage. This is particularly silly considering it is ordinary consumers who keep the economy moving. Please change the national living wage to include all adults from age 18 and stop devaluing and dehumanising young people.

Careers advice and guidance in schools. This service for me was not particularly helpful or useful - it was clear not many resources were put into helping people understand how a career might work in the future. Although we had some work experience opportunities, so-called life lessons and the occasional interview with an advisor, other information would have been more useful. During lessons I would like to have learned about employment law and employees rights, understanding a pay slip, tax returns, self employment (a majority of workers are moving to self employment) paying bills, money management, housing information (such as mortgages, agency fees, housing law etc), union information and job application assistance. I felt that without considerable help from my immediate family I would have struggled for the past 5 years attempting to navigate the working world. I know many of my peers have struggled with discrimination in the workplace due to their lack of basic knowledge of employment rights.

I have used job centre plus for one period in my life, aged 19. The experience of looking for work under their "supervision" was one of the most harrowing, stressful and literally depressing times of my life (I suffer with moderate anxiety and depression). I have looked for work without JSA support and found work quicker, with fewer applications and far less stress. When I did occasionally receive the JSA I was due (it was often rescinded without explanation) it was a pathetically small amount and certainly wouldn't have been enough for me to live without huge support from my family. I can only imagine how horrendous this experience would be for an unsupported young person. I was forced to apply for jobs I had no skills for, never mind interest in, just to keep to the quota of applications required. This quota often included outmoded ways of applying and searching, which didn't help anyone. I was treated less as someone being given assistance and service, more as an irritant to be removed quickly as possible. I was given no help in improving my CV, applications or interview technique and I put more effort into looking for jobs than I've ever had to in full time employmen. And for all this I only received £30 per week. In the end I took the first job that accepted me just to get away from the job centre, despite that job being a 4 hr/week contract for heavy manual work for which I received £4.20/hr and general uncertainty about whether I'd earn enough from extra shifts each week. Generally I think the job centre needs to focus on helping and advising, particularly for young people who are often unsure about their skills and where they want their career to go. More advice on training and a little more leeway with the rules for young people while they find their feet would be advisable. And perhaps more support for staff to help them understand how to help young people.
Kieran England says:
September 15, 2016 at 11:24 AM
The fact that the National Living Wage is only available for those who are 25 or over implies that our Government does not believe that anyone under the age of 24 has to be independent and provide for themselves, presumably this is because the members of our Government do not share the experiences of the working class families in Britain. However, a close friend of mine recently lost her mother when in her first year of college. Due to this she had to drop out of college and get a full-time job. However, because of her lack of qualifications she found that she could only get a minimum wage job. This means that an 18 year old girl who has been forced to live independently is having to survive on £5.30 an hour, whereas a co-worker, aged 25 and living with his parents, earns more than her for doing the exact same job. There is no better way for our Government to discourage 18-24 year olds. Besides, if 18-24 year olds are old enough to take out a mortgage, why are they not old enough to be able to earn enough to afford one?