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The challenges for disadvantged young people seeking work

Summary

The UK labour market has become more challenging for all jobseekers, with unemployment particularly high among young people and those with limited education and skills. This research describes the difficulty of job searching for young people seeking low-skilled work, examining three contrasting local labour market areas in England and Wales.

Key points:

• Since the recession the labour market has become increasingly competitive, with fewer vacancies, which are filled more quickly. There is a deficit in labour demand.
• The areas studied have felt the recession’s impact and subsequent economic fragility. But geography matters, with substantial variation between places and occupation types. To enhance their chances, jobseekers needed good intelligence about their local labour market and employers’ recruitment practices.
• Only 24 per cent of low-skilled vacancies found for the study offered full-time, daytime work. Over half of vacancies stating the pay offered minimum wage, and 78 per cent paid under £7 an hour, making it less likely that jobseekers could travel far for them. Employers also preferred local candidates for such jobs. So although jobseekers need to search beyond their immediate neighbourhood, policies demanding wider geographical searches will not necessarily get more people into work.
• Intense competition means that many jobs are filled very quickly, facilitated by increasing internet use for recruitment. Some employers advertise vacancies online and close them as soon as they have sufficient applicants to select from. Not all jobseekers were aware how speedily they need to respond to vacancies. Those without internet access at home were at a disadvantage.
• Despite public perceptions that employers discriminate against residents from neighbourhoods with poor reputations, the study found no significant difference in positive response rates for applicants from areas with poor reputations and those with ‘bland’ reputations.