Posts Tagged ‘youth unemployment’
I remember having that awkward “so-what-do-you-want-to-be-when-you-leave-school” conversation with pretty much everyone I knew during my last year at school.
Teachers, parents, mates, aunts, uncles, your next door neighbour, your cat… and usually a careers advisor too.
More and more young people are leaving school without plans for the future, and many turn to careers advisors for help.
The problem is that not all careers advisors give out all the info. Here at vInspired, we know that volunteering is an amazing thing to do. Great for you (it makes you feel good!) and, let’s face it, good for your CV too.
So we carried out some research that shows that many advisors aren’t promoting volunteering as a way to increase employability, which is a crying shame.
Volunteering — a route into employment
For most of you, the post-school dream is getting a job. Winning the Euro Millions jackpot would be top of the list maybe — but after that, a job. However, with the current economic climate, that may not always be possible.
Volunteering in a great route into employment. You gain skills and experience, can prove to future employers that you are reliable and dedicated, and can even get a reference. Plus you get the feeling of knowing that you are doing good in the world.
The government, businesses and careers advisors need to recognise that volunteering IS a legitimate route into employment. I wouldn’t have got any of the jobs I have had, from part-time work in a bar to my role at vInspired, without the skills and experience I gained from volunteering.
Getting the facts right
You develop hugely as a person when you volunteer: I learned to be more organised, to be on time, and how to manage other volunteers. I also learned the hard way that having a working CD player on a bus full of kids is an absolute life-saver… after ours packed up, they made me do karaoke renditions of Lady Gaga and Adele!
More importantly, our research discovered that careers advisors need to be giving you the right information. Anyone out there on Job Seeker’s Allowance or other benefits? Ever wondered if you can still volunteer when claiming benefits? Absolutely.
Anyone that tells you otherwise is wrong, simple as that. In order to claim Jobseeker’s, you need to be actively looking for work, be available for interview within 48 hours and be able to start a job within a week.
Does volunteering prevent this? Hell no. Let’s debunk myth like this once and for all!
So here’s some careers advice, from me to you: volunteer. You have nothing to lose, and quite literally everything to gain.
Hannah Brearley is Youth Involvement and Policy Intern at vInspired.
Do you agree? What’s the best piece of careers advice you’ve ever received? Leave your comments below.
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At vInspired, we’re always developing creative and imaginative ways to support young people to develop the skills to succeed. We already know that volunteering can help young people to develop a wide range of work-based skills to make you more employable.
From team work to communication skills, planning to problem-solving – volunteering is a brilliant way to get work-ready while making a difference to causes you care about.
Lately, we’ve been thinking a lot about high streets. One year on from the anniversary of the London riots, we wanted to develop opportunities to connect young people in positive ways to their local high streets.
Many high streets now have empty shops, which are lying empty and unloved. With the help of passionate and creative volunteers, we think we can turn these spaces into exciting and imaginative retail hubs at the heart of the community.
High levels of unemployment are still a major challenge for young people, and we wanted to do something about this too – by giving young people the chance to gain valuable work experience and relevant skills to help with finding work.
Get retail ready
Retail Ready People is an exciting, free 12 week programme, which gives you the chance to design and launch your own shop on the high street. We’ll secure a shop or retail unit on the high street and we’ll hand the keys to you and your team.
Working with a team of volunteers, you’ll develop a range of retail and enterprise skills that will help your CV to sparkle. Together, you’ll learn about;
• Shop branding, marketing and PR / promotion
• Products, pricing strategies and profit / loss
• Customer service and teamwork
• The challenges and opportunities of running your own shop!
Our first two shops will be opening in Enfield (North London) and Brighton. So, if you’re interested in being your own boss, apply to join Retail Ready People today.
The deadline for applications is Monday 3 September 2012.
There’s no doubt about it – volunteering helps to develop new skills, make new contacts, and new friends. It’s a great way to make employers notice your CV. Here’s why volunteering is a real career kick-starter….
1. It boosts your confidence
Volunteering is a fun way of giving your confidence a big boost by trying new things. 92 per cent of young people who have volunteered through vInspired report they feel more confident as a result.
2. It builds employable skills
Volunteering improves core skills such as team work and communication, gives invaluable experience and makes connections with future employers. As a result, your CV and applications forms will stand out and show that you mean business – essential in the current job market.
3. You get a head start
Volunteering helps you get ahead in your career. Research shows that 72% of employers agree or strongly agree that volunteering can have a positive effect on an individual’s career progression.
3. It’s fun!
Aside from anything else, volunteering gives you a fantastic buzz and helps you decide what types of work you enjoy most. Volunteer in something you’re passionate about and you’ll get a lot more out of it. Not only that but it’s a great way to make new friends with people who share similar interests and aspirations
5. It’s a world of possibilities
Volunteering opportunities exist in almost every field of work – from working at film companies, to charities, events companies, or even abroad. Have a think about the kind of thing you want to do. Opportunities vary from one off, half-day things to virtually full time, 12 month activities. The list is almost endless. So what are you waiting for?!
In just 5 years, we’ve created over 1 million volunteering opportunities on vinspired.com, which can help you build valuable career skills. There’s going to be one just right for you. Simply enter your postcode and interests, and opportunities will appear straight away. Happy volunteering!
At school my teachers constantly drummed into us that if you didn’t work hard and get good grades we’d be sentenced to a lifetime of “stacking shelves in Tesco’s” or “flipping burgers in Burger King” but with the latest Workfare Scheme announced by Nick Clegg, it seems this has become the acceptable pathway into full time employment.
I’m not saying I’m totally against the government’s scheme, as I believe that experience is priceless when it comes to finding a job. But what bothers me is the fact that it has not considered the importance for young people of pursuing a career based on their interests and passions.
I left university last summer and although I took up work experience whilst I was there it was not enough to get me a job straight out of Uni – so I got online and found a voluntary internship in the field I was passionate about. I know not everybody can afford to work for free but if you’re already claiming JSA like I was, a voluntary role was my best option.
The difference between my voluntary internship and the current workfare scheme is that I really enjoyed what I was doing and so getting up every morning wasn’t a chore. Society for years has stigmatised the roles that the scheme is offering so of course young people aren’t going to be jumping out of their seats to get involved.
Instead of spoon-feeding young people mediocre work experience placements, why couldn’t the government pick up where schools have failed and equip young people with the skills and confidence to actually get out there and find work experience in areas that they’re genuinely passionate about?
Nobody wants to work for free but competition for jobs is rife and you can either sit back in resentment or do as my Dad has been telling me: “prove your worth and the job will follow.”
Fair game for the jobless or exploitation of vulnerable young people? What have you made of the recent controversy over the government’s work experience scheme? Share your views here.
Cem Kaymaz-Yildiz is currently a Digital Intern at vInspired
So the London mayoral elections are coming up and it seemed to be a two horse race between the squabbling school boys BoJo and Ken. But amid their failure to turn up to the under-24s debate at Channel 4 last week it seems they may have fallen at the final hurdle in clinching the young people’s vote.
Instead, youth focused Siobhan Benita took full advantage of Boris and Ken’s no-show by sharing her forward thinking views and seeing young people not as a problem but instead as an answer to “Making London Even Better!”.
What really stands out for me are Siobhan’s policies on keeping young London moving. Earlier in the year I wrote about the devastating effects that rising fares would have on young people who are out of work, volunteering or interning, so to see someone addressing this issue head on was a huge relief.
Siobhan’s policy currently looks to offer free travel for Londoners who are actively seeking work and reduced fares for Londoners who are on the minimum wage, as well as season ticket options for part time workers. It would be great to see free travel for volunteers added into the equation – but for now it’s a step in the right direction.
If I’m being honest, I knew nothing about Siobhan until I followed the #C4UpRise debate on Twitter but it just goes to show how effective social media can be in getting young people involved in politics. Siobhan even replied to one of our tweets:
I still haven’t decided on who will get my vote but one thing’s for sure, those at the top need to understand that the internet, especially social media, has given everybody and anybody the platform to have their voices heard.
So although Boris and Ken weren’t present at the event, the 200,000 strong online audience had their say and as the famous adage states “there’s power in numbers.”
Did you follow last week’s UpRise event? Share your experiences of issues young people are currently facing with transport costs here.
Cem Kaymaz-Yildiz is currently a Digital Intern at vInspired
I’m writing this blog with three hats on my head; one as vInspired Youth Advisory Board member, two as recent graduate who benefitted massively from my experiences of volunteering whilst a student (despite only starting in the last 6 months of my degree) and three as an employee of an organisation that was involved with Student Volunteering Week this year.
The benefits of students engaging with their local community can never be understated as it creates an awareness of life outside of the student’s own world. This creates empathy, greater understanding and in my opinion aids personal development in ways that theoretical class room based learning never can.
It’s through this that students of all ages learn real citizenship and life skills so often lacking from school curriculums, colleges and university life. Student volunteering is all about bringing together all parts of society to aid each other and this should never be forgotten.
The employability enhancement side of volunteering is something that will have been mentioned loads last week in trying to entice students into volunteering. The confidence levels and practical hands on work experience that student volunteering can give is invaluable. At a time when graduates are still being churned out at record levels during a period of high youth unemployment, students need more than just their hard earned and valued qualifications.
Student volunteering is also a quick and easy way to try out something new, meet new people and test out different career paths. It can fill a CV and covering letter with practical examples of student’s talents and capabilities.
However, having worked throughout Student Volunteering Week I still feel there is more that can be done. There are still too many students who have never thought of volunteering, who are unaware of its advantages and what it can provide.
But one of the dangers I feel student volunteering faces in the next few years and which I heard a lot of last week working in a non-Redbrick Students’ Union, is the socio economic challenges faced by many students due to the recession. Many hard-pressed students are only really after paid work rather than volunteering opportunities as they desperately need money to pay their way not just for them but their families too.
Or they are working so many hours already that they just have no time left to volunteer. It is here where there needs to be a big rethink both on how our economy works and how to better engage with non-traditional student types (mature, student parents etc.) in order to allow more students to be able to get involved in future Student Volunteering Weeks.
Lee Marsham is a member of the Youth Advisory Board at vInspired.
The Commission on Youth Unemployment published its report, Youth unemployment: the crisis we cannot afford, this week.
The title says it all really. The current level of youth unemployment will see the public purse empty its pennies to the tune of £4.8 billion in 2012 alone – with its scarring effects costing £2.9 billion per year in the future. Even forecasting only a decade ahead, the present net value of the wider costs of youth unemployement to the Treasury is estimated at £28 billion.
Numbers speak louder than words. And in this case, they’re screaming.
Regrettably, I know first-hand the real life experience behind these figures. As a fresh (read naïve) graduate, with my shiny new degree proudly in tow, I was full of optimism, ready to take on the world and grab my dreams. Or so I thought.
Several months down the line and countless CVs later I, like many of my friends, was left feeling deflated, with dwindling faith in my employability. And I was one of the lucky ones! Eventually I managed to secure something as precious as gold-dust: a paid internship here at vInspired. But for many, the harsh reality of the situation continues to win the day, relegating them to spectator status in their own lives.
So, the million pound question is: what is the solution? Well, the report makes several recommendations, including:
• Frontloading the Government’s ‘Youth Contract’ initiative and doubling the number of job subsidies available in 2012
• A part-time job guarantee for young people who have been on the work programme for a year without finding a job
• Targeting young people earlier
• Youth Employment Zones
• A new mentoring scheme for young people, by young people.
I would like to concentrate on something else the report makes reference to…
It is my experience that rather than moving us away from the labour market or the structures that help us find work, volunteering too can be an invaluable tool in preparing young people for employment. In fact, nearly three-quarters (72%) of employers agree or strongly agree that volunteering can have a positive effect on an individual’s career progression.
By keeping us motivated, boosting confidence and providing a chance to gain valuable professional experience and new skills for when the right job comes along, volunteering can offer a much needed lifeline throughout the recession. Indeed, vInspired is committed to developing new solutions for the relief of youth unemployment through training, informal education, volunteering and community action.
This means volunteering could in its own way contribute to more taxes coming in and less benefits being paid out. So, in a society where the status quo means it is too easy for us as young people to follow a pathway to welfare-dependency or a revolving door between benefits and work, volunteering looks to be a solid investment – both on a human and financial level.
Boris Johnson recently stated that the young unemployed British “lack energy and appetite” and should adopt foreign attitudes when it comes to hard work. Being of mixed ethnicity myself (British/Turkish) it got me thinking: is a hard-worker born or nurtured?
My Father, who is Turkish, moved to London in the ‘80s with nothing more than the clothes on his back and a dream of a better future. He has been a labourer ever since and so was the perfect person to hold this debate with.
When I first quizzed him on Boris’ statement he initially agreed; sharing his struggles of finding work and how he would knock on doors offering cheap labour, anything to put a roof over his head and food in his mouth. He then went on to describe a friend he met recently who moved from Italy to London with her two children and now works two jobs to support them. One involved getting up at 6am to clean offices and the other working 9-5 at a hairdresser’s earning minimum wage. “How many people do you reckon would do that?”, he asked.
I was stumped and even questioned my own work ethic. Could I do that?
Moving off topic, I began asking my Dad about how his work was going. “Not too good, I keep being undercut by these Polish workers. I don’t know how they do it and still earn a living”, he responded. And there it was – my answer!
It’s not that foreign workers necessarily work harder than British – it’s just that their perceptions of work, pay and job satisfaction can differ greatly to ours. Although my Dad would have been happy to do the job for a lower cost when he first arrived in Britain, times had changed. As Britain boomed, his expectation changed too. Prices increased and the standard of living improved, so he grew accustomed to his new way of living – just like the millions of young Brits who have seen their parents prosper, buying houses, working hard and starting families.
Now that the UK faces economic gloom, Boris and government officials need to be sympathetic to a generation who need to radically change their perceptions of what makes a successful citizen. It’s not that we’re lazy – it’s just that society and the media created an expectation, then pulled the rug from beneath our feet.
Maybe it’s time that people like Boris back off, give us all a breather and let us accept our new predicament. Because I know one thing for sure: humans have a great capacity for adapting… but it doesn’t happen overnight.
What do you think of Boris’ views on the UK’s young unemployed? We’d like to hear from you. Share your views below.
Well 2012 is up and running and I’ve been reflecting on my hopes and fears for the year ahead.
2011 was supposed to be the year of UK and global action for young people. It was a year in which I got a degree – but unfortunately, like so many other young people struggling to find work, have not been able to use it.
Worrying youth unemployment figures dominated the news and were a real talking point at last month’s Youth Advisory Board meeting. So many young people are struggling as I am, to get long-term work and facing the prospect of being among the first generations not able to afford housing and have the financial freedoms of our parents’ generation.
Looking at the bleak unemployment figures, combined with the bad press received over the summer’s riots, you’d be forgiven for thinking that 2011 wasn’t a great year for young people – and 2012 doesn’t hold much promise either.
But I’d like for a moment, to focus on the positive contributions that young people have made to society in the past year and will continue to make in 2012, in spite of the challenges they face.
For instance, the work that our Teamv projects carry out across the country, shows that plenty of young people really do care about helping others, are passionate about society and are contributing something positive to their community and themselves.
One of last year’s national award winners, Kirsty Ashton, has gone on to receive an MBE in the New Year’s honours list – showing that young people who challenge themselves and work hard enough really can get the positive public recognition they deserve.
For young people, the act of volunteering is a brilliant way to do some good for others – but also in the current climate, it’s a great opportunity for self-development and building recognition to strengthen your CV. A look over the inspiring stories of this year’s regional award winners is evidence of this.
Looking back, 2011 had plenty of bad news. We are in hard times. But I sit here knowing that our spirit and determination to do good through volunteering is as strong as ever. I don’t think we should focus on the fact that 2011 was supposedly the “year of action” for young people – because every year should be seen as a year for young people to flourish and take action.
In 2012, we should continue to fight negative public perceptions and show that we care, through doing good and bringing about positive change.
Having spent the past four months visiting the Jobcentre once every fortnight, I’ve finally signed off and managed to achieve an elusive paid internship here at vinspired. After leaving university this summer with my degree in hand and optimistic plans for the future, the last thing I expected was being stuck on the dole with an outbox of CVs yearning for replies. So now I’ve signed off, I can tell you about my experience at the Jobcentre and how to survive.
The Jobcentre is a depressing place. Fact. Everybody there would rather not be. The whole experience starts by reeling off the reasons why you’re in the predicament of unemployment, what you have achieved so far and plans for the future. Make the most of this because that induction is likely to be the most communication you’ll ever have for the rest of your time ‘signing on’.
You’re told you’ll be given an advisor (this never happened) and you’re given a little grey booklet to document your job search, then sent on your way as another plus one on unemployment stats.
For the next two weeks you fill in the booklet, much like those teachers’ reports they gave to naughty children with all the jobs you have been looking at/applying for. You can also plan your disguise for next week’s appointment when you inevitably bump into somebody you know (this will happen – hide or embrace the fact that you’re in it together!).
Your second appointment will form the basis for the rest of your visits – sit down, wait, wait and wait some more. When your name is finally called, your job booklet is signed without being checked and you’re handed your next appointment date. Talking and eye contact are kept to a minimum.
The best thing about the Jobcentre though, has to be their loyalty rewards scheme. It would seem that the longer you’re unemployed the more freebies you get! There’s the discounted travelcard, funding for further study but best of all you can get a grant for a new suave suit worth up to £300!
When I did finally get my first opportunity doing a voluntary internship at young people’s charity, Catch22, I was told that I would have to sign off. Great, so gaining work experience is frowned upon, but stay unemployed and you get to travel around on the cheap, pretending you’re James Bond in a new suit. It just didn’t make sense.
After arguing my point several times over I was told that it would be ok as long as I reduced my intended hours and made sure I was available for my appointments. I would also have to state which travel and lunch expenses I was receiving so they could reduce my payments (due to my one day a week bar work). So I found myself gaining work experience but receiving less money – now that’s what I really would call a Catch 22 situation.
I could rant forever about how bad I think the system is. If David Cameron could try out a ‘Secret Millionaire’ type programme, whereby he could be donned in some cutting edge prosthetics, thrust into a Jobcentre and the results broadcasted live, I would definitely pay to watch!
The Jobcentre is a leech that sucks every bit of motivation and faith from you. If you don’t have thick skin you’ll become a lifeless drone, happy to accept your statutory fate. But there is light at the end of the tunnel. You can avoid the above symptoms by staying active and having faith that a job will finally arrive. The day will come when you can finally look back and laugh about your whole experience.
I’m using my paid digital internship at vinspired to make myself super employable so I never have to go back. They say there is no hell on earth… I beg to differ.
The National Young Volunteers Service
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