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Why are young people losing jobs?

By Jim Reed
Newsbeat reporter

Job Centre sign

Unemployment figures show another big increase in the number of young people out of work.

The 18 to 24 age group has been hardest hit by the downturn in the economy as companies stop taking on new staff and make less experienced workers redundant.

Newsbeat asked a group of employment specialists for their take on the jobs market.

How tough is it for young people at the moment?

Nicola Smith, TUC: "The rate at which young people are unemployed is rising faster than the general population. It's also taking longer to get a job in the first place so people are unemployed for longer.

"Young people are also more likely to be employed on a temporary contract and, at the start of a recession, those jobs go first.

"The other key issue is the fall in vacancy rates across all sectors of employment. So young people who have just started entering the jobs market are going to find there are fewer jobs available."

Carl Gilleard, Association of Graduate Recruiters (AGR): "There are less jobs and more applicants for the jobs that are out there. There is more competition but we don't expect it to be that dramatic in the short term. There will still be a good number of graduate openings."

What kind of jobs have been hardest hit?

Carl Gilleard, AGR: "In some sectors like financial services there will be fewer graduate opportunities than in 2009 but some other sectors, like the public sector, are going to see growth in the number of vacancies.

Job advertisement print-out
The recession could mean fewer jobs in shops, restaurants and bars

"Traditional professions like accountancy and law are likely to be fairly stable. We are waiting with baited breath around the retail and service sector where the knock-on effect of a recession is likely to have an impact. But there is no hard evidence yet of what that will mean."

Rebecca Clake, Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD):

"With all the doom and gloom in the news about the economy, it's easy to get the impression that nobody is taking on staff, but that's not the case.

"There are particular areas that are going to become more important in the future, like healthcare for the sick and elderly and certain scientific areas. So it's certainly not the case that there are no avenues out there."

What advice would you give people trying to find work at the moment?

Carl Gilleard, AGR: "The sooner you start your job search the better. Never forget that you are in a competitive situation and you have to stand out from the crowd.

"At same time think very carefully about what you want to do. Try not to be too narrow in your choice of career. The more inflexible you are, the harder you make it for yourself. Flexibility is the key."

Rebecca Clake, CIPD: "Don't just rely on one website because not all jobs are advertised. Talk to friends and family or go to an event linked to a particular industry.

Don't just rely on one website... Talk to friends and family or go to an event linked to a particular industry

"If you can't find the job you really want, another option is to start volunteering and build your skills up that way.

"If you have got big, long gaps on your CV, it's not necessarily a problem in itself. But it is good to demonstrate you've been learning some new skills in that time. It'll stand you in good stead if you're up against other candidates."

Carl Gilleard, AGR: "Just because in 2009, by an accident of birth, you are coming into the labour market when things are a bit tough, don't think you're written off.

"Employers will still be interested if you end up applying three years or more after graduation as long as you are moving forward and you can demonstrate that what you've been doing in the meantime makes you a strong applicant.

"If you need to get a job that pays the bills and keeps a roof over your head, then do that. But don't lose sight of your original goals because in time the market will improve and when it does you need to be able to move."

If you have been made redundant, what rights do you have to compensation?

Peter Talibart, lawyer at Norton Rose: "You may be entitled to a statutory redundancy payment if you have two years continuous service with your employer.

"The amount is based on your age, length of service and weekly pay. For example, someone who is aged 21 and has been at the same company for two years will be entitled to one week's pay.

"If your employer fails to act fairly in carrying out the redundancies, you may bring a claim for compensation for unfair dismissal in an employment tribunal.

"If your company is insolvent you can apply to the government, who will pay the redundancy payment out of the National Insurance Fund."

Richard Dunstan, Citizens Advice Bureau: "If you have a contract, check it. You should be entitled to adequate notice of dismissal, or pay in lieu of notice on top of your redundancy pay.

"Once you have received your redundancy pay, be very careful about what you spend the money on until you have taken advice on how it may affect your benefits and tax position.

"You may be treated as still having money even if you have spent it."

What help can I expect from the government?

Richard Dunstan, Citizens Advice Bureau: "If you haven't got another job to go to, you might be entitled to help from the government or local authority in the form of benefits.

Citizens Advice Bureau website
The CAB may be able to advise you if you lose your job

"Depending on your circumstances these could include jobseeker's allowance, housing benefit, council tax benefit, free school meals for your children and help with the NHS costs."

Andy Scull from Jobcentre Plus: "Jobseeker's Allowance is the main benefit for people who are out of work. It is paid when you don't have a job, or work less than 16 hours a week and are looking for work.

"You may get contribution-based Jobseeker's Allowance if you have paid enough National Insurance contributions. Otherwise you could get income-based Jobseeker's Allowance. This is based on your income and savings.

"Single people aged between 18 and 24 get 47.95 and people over 25 get 60.50 a week."

Is the jobs market going to get better any time soon?

Nicola Smith, TUC: "Things are going to get worse before they get better. We think unemployment is going to hit at least two and a half million next year.

"But it's important to remember that when we come out of that recession, there will be more jobs available. It can be a difficult time, but there is no need to spend your whole life worrying about unemployment."

Carl Gilleard, AGR: "My gut feeling tells me that we are going to face a couple of fairly lean years. I hoped to be proved wrong.

"It does mean 2009 and 2010 are going to be difficult but you shouldn't lose heart. You have to believe the next job you apply for is the one you'll get an interview for; and the next interview you'll get is the one where you'll be offered that job.

"It's difficult but you have to continue to have that belief in yourself and remain positive."

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