Inspiring Interns welcomes the ACEVO report Youth unemployment: the crisis we cannot afford. It rightly identifies the number of young people currently out of work as ‘one of the greatest challenges facing the country’. The report contains valuable analysis of the landscape that school leavers encounter when their formal education comes to an end and a number of well thought-out solutions to the problems they face.
It is, however, important to note that there is another significant group of young people that have serious difficulties trying to enter the labour market after education: university graduates. There is no mention of graduates in the ACEVO report, despite the fact that research suggests around 28% of the class of 2007 are still not in full-time employment (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-14758464). While it is undoubtedly true that university leavers are better placed to enter the world of work than school leavers, clearly a concerted effort is required to ensure this stratum of jobseekers does not bear the brunt of current economic difficulties and long-term structural problems. Currently, there is no graduate-specific Government provision for unemployed graduates, meaning those that do turn to organisations such as Job Centre Plus rarely receive the tailored support that would enable them to find suitable employment.
Inspiring Interns accepts that the current job market is no place for a misplaced sense of entitlement. Nevertheless it is a patent waste of personal ability and economic capacity to place those with degrees into short-term, low-skilled jobs when opportunities exist, in the form of internships, for them to develop skills and earn graduate-level work. In addition to ACEVO’s recommendations, we call on the Government to expand its Work Experience Programme to ensure that unemployed graduates can undertake meaningful internships that offer a genuine opportunity to progress to a permanent job. Currently many Job Centres are reluctant to refer graduates onto the Work Experience Programme or find them inappropriate positions.
Since being founded in 2009, Inspiring Interns have placed 1,400 graduates into internships with SMEs that have offered real hands-on experience, 65% of which have become permanent jobs. There is undoubtedly appetite among both employers and jobseekers for such opportunities – it is vital that the Government supports both parties and fosters this path to employment.