Published on July 2nd, 2014 |
by Amy Garry
Revolving Door Syndrome – Youth (un)employment in the UK
When I graduated last year, the euphoric sense of achievement quickly diminished and the daunting realisation of getting a job set in. My first step – to the job centre. It quickly became a common theme of conversation between me and my friends – how did you get on? After the comparisons of what we are entitled to and the support they are providing, it was noticable that there was little consistency between our experiences. However one thing I do notice through my experience with the job centre, along with others, is that the system is not conducive to provide long term solutions. Rather it promotes temporary solutions to get you ‘out of the system’. But what good is that?
The issue of unemployment in the UK is always a topical one. It feels that on a weekly basis new ‘statistics‘ are released showing changes in unemployment figures all with the aim to promote the success of the incumbent and to weaken the opposition. In other words, the topic of employment is a game of political ping pong and a key policy issue. This has been furthered with new policies being released by Labour. These policies threaten to axe benefits for 18-21 years old if they are deemed to be ‘under qualified’ to work. However, rather than discuss the party politics of the welfare state, in particular the benefits system on younger people, I want to look at the ways in which the system has created a vicious cycle of (un)employment.
A fundamental issue for me is the lack of career guidance that is provided from the job centre. Many will know, upon ‘signing on’ you have to state what your skills are and the kind of work you want. However, this was ignored and rather I was told about what work was available and what is expected of me in order for me to receive job seekers’ allowance. The work that was promoted had little relevance to my skill set listed but provided an immediate fix. The problem however is that these options were unlikely to lead to a permanent solution. If work that is promoted through the job centre does not provide job prosperity then the possibility of being unemployed again becomes probable.
In addition to the noticeable targets of the job centre to provide an immediate fix is the lack of knowledge in job seekers’ attributes. Through my own experiences, and those of my friends, it is apparent that those offering advise and support do not always have a good understanding of the skills that you have acquired. In most cases, graduates want to find work in a field related to their academic studies. However if there is not adequate support to find work in a specific field, along with the urgency to find work, you are left back at square one – no long term solution.
A further problem related to the idea of a revolving door of (un)employment relates to the lack of job security. The rise in fixed term contracts and zero hour contracts is being used more commonly across numerous sectors of employment. The use of a zero hour contract provides employees with little legal rights regarding employment in comparison to those that are classified as an employee rather than a worker (this status is common for those with a zero hour contract). Employers do not have to obligate to a working pattern or minimum number of hours and thus creates a temporary sense of employment. This temporary nature and lack of security related to this work furthers the cycle of going between employment and unemployment. Moreover, it is proving that the majority of those who have zero hour contracts are under the age of 25.
In statistics the Office for National Statistics released earlier this month, there are close to 350,000 fewer people out of work in the UK. On first glance this is very promising and can highlight that the job market is improving in the UK. However, after assessing areas upon which the system for creating employment, and sustainablity at that, is flawed, it can be viewed in a different light. How many of these introduced into employment are in fixed term contracts or zero hours? Are they utilising their relevant skills? Or is it just another stop gap? For sustainable employment and to reduce the revolving door syndrome I think that it is important to address issues that I have mentioned to move forward and see a real change in statistics relating to employment in the UK. What do you think?
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