26 Feb 2012

What job prospects face the class of 2012?

Channel 4 News reporter Fatima Manji returns to the school she left just a few years ago to see how the class of 2012 are facing up to finding a job.

The numbers of young people in unemployment is at a record high. Just days ago, latest figures show the number not in employment, education or training is on the rise. Add to that controversies around government work programmes, in making people work unpaid and it seems there’s a fierce battle raging in around what is acceptable in the world of work.

So with all this debate raging on, how do those leaving school feel about their job prospects? Fatima Manji’s been back to her old school in Peterborough to find out.

Channel 4 News met three students who are all set to leave this year and are all making tough decisions about the future.

Across the country school leavers like these know theirs is being a called a ”lost generation”. The bleak statistics show there’s little demand for youth labour.

When Fatima Manji left her school in 2004, the number of unemployed young people across the country was just under 600,000. That figure is now at over one million. That’s one in five young people out of work.

Channel 4 News reporter Fatima Manji returns to the school she left just a few years ago to see how the class of 2012 are facing up to finding a job.

Outside the school grounds – the government’s under fire for its work experience schemes. So, just what does it take to get a job?

“It’s just all over the news, more people want experience,” said one student, Sophie.

“All my mates have applied for jobs and well they are like you can’t have this job for experience or not right qualifications.”

To gain experience Sophie has a plan. Like nearly half a million others last year, she’s got an apprenticeship – at a local dog kennel – where she’ll learn on the job.

“Well on this apprenticeship you get a placement for 5 days,” said Sophie. “Whereas when you go to college where there’s another animal welfare course, you get a placement once a week.”

The government says work experience gives young people a valuable taste of working life. Critics say it is slave labour. Who is right? Read FactCheck

The government’s got its eye on business saying it wants more involved in these schemes. It could be a good deal.

Employers aren’t locked into guaranteeing a job and the minimum wage for a school leaving apprentice is £2.60 an hour.

Sophie’s employer, Ludovic Greenhow, talked to Channel 4 News:

“I suppose there are companies who do take advantage- I mean you hear girls in hairdressers and spending all their time sweeping up and making coffee.

“We like our girl to understand the business side of things be involved in the breeding, grooming. We like to teach them thoroughly. So I feel that although they are a cheap form of labour they are getting their moneys worth in knowledge.”

Back at school, knowledge comes in many forms. Since the recession, the school has started career skills as early as fourteen. Everything from CV writing to visits from local business. All aimed at making them more employable.

School leavers know there are nearly a million young people not in education, employment or training.

A recruitment consultant however working with the students told them that the job market was so competitive that they should consider unpaid work to get experience.

However, there’s building anger towards unpaid work. But with high demand for each placement working for free is often required even to get a basic job.

The current climate is cruel for a young person making their first steps towards the world of work.

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