The Edit Feature: Youth Unemployment

By Aftab Ali

UP at around noon, make a cup of coffee and switch on the TV to the usual: This Morning, Loose Women, Jeremy Kyle.

It’s all mind-numbingly monotonous.

Then it’s onto the catch-up TV section, spending around an hour flicking through hundreds of programmes – all while not really taking anything in.

I then tentatively head towards the laptop to sift through job vacancies.

This has been the almost daily ritual undertaken by 23-year-old university graduate, Pauline McAllister, for the past four months.

Having graduated from Stirling University last summer with an honours degree in geography, Pauline has been unable to find any work. Her qualifications are irrelevant to the small number of jobs out there.

Pauline said: “I’ve been unemployed for the past four months. I had an unpaid work experience placement two days a week after I’d graduated. I gave it up, thinking I’d be better off trying to find paid work, but it’s been harder than I thought and now the placement position I had has been filled.”

Pauline is only one of thousands of 16-24-year-olds in this position.

Although the SNP last month “welcomed statistics showing youth unemployment has fallen by 28,000 over the last year – the largest annual fall since 2006”, it fails to distract from the bigger picture.

Youth unemployment in Britain has risen by 11,000 to 974,000 – the biggest increase since the start of last year.

On a bigger, and more worrying scale the youth unemployment figure for the UK and Europe combined stands at six million – with Greece and Spain’s youngsters respectively suffering the brunt of the recession.

“I feel as though my four years spent at uni have been a total waste,” explains Pauline. “Sometimes I think I would’ve been better off getting a job straight out of high school, starting at the bottom and working my way up like some of my friends did.

“If I had done this, it’s possible that, by now, I would have had my own place with a regular salary coming into my own household. Instead, I’m relying on my parents for a lot.”

In the statement from the SNP last month, MSP Jamie Hepburn, a member of the Scottish Parliament’s Finance Committee said that “it is imperative we build on these figures and continue to work hard to see all those people who are still looking for work find employment.”

So what is being done for young people, mainly in universities, to ensure that they will not fall into the youth unemployment trap after graduating?

Glasgow Caledonian University’s Careers Service offers advice to students and gives them the confidence boost they need to find job opportunities.

The ‘doom-and-gloom’ picture portrayed in the news about youth employment is dismissed by the service as they encourage students with job prospects.

Pauline continued: “I’ve got an appointment to speak with someone at the Career Development Centre at Stirling Uni this week. After speaking with her on the phone the other day, I’m confident that she’ll be able to help me and give me the confidence kick that I’ve maybe needed!”

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