Often when we talk about youth unemployment and the young people it affects many people conjure up a stereotype of a “typical unemployed young person” – someone who is not interested in education or employment, maybe they dropped out of school, didn’t achieve core exams, someone who would rather hang out on street corners causing trouble or stay at home playing on computer games?
It frustrates me when you see people jump to this conclusion as it is the opposite of my experience. The media in the UK has a very unhelpful way of creating stereotypes and fixating on the negative which in-turn affects the way we think about certain subjects.
These stereotypes can be damaging and no more so than when we think about youth employment. If employers believe in the negative stereotype of a young unemployed person they are hardly going to take the steps to create an opportunity that will support young people into employment.
At YEUK we have over 10,500 young members, largely 16-24 year olds who have joined YEUK because they want to be part of our community, they want their voices to be heard and they want to make a difference to the biggest issue facing young people today. That is not the action of a feckless young person.
Recently we have appointed an apprentice, 17 year old Rhiannon started at YEUK with little work experience, yet she has exceeded every expectation, added huge value to the role and the organisation and is only in week 4! At the recent AELP conference Rhiannon stood up and spoke to an audience of over 300 people about her struggle to move from education into employment and how she wants to help young people just like her. Passionate, willing, caring, enthusiastic and quick to learn, Rhiannon is all those things and more. Just like the 80 + volunteer ambassadors who support YEUK at events, writing articles and meeting MP’s. This generation of young people are something else, something to be proud of and support not to be shot down by ignorance.
There are of course individuals that buck the trend, those young people who have yet to be inspired, meet a role model or find their place in this world, but they are the minority and maybe, just maybe they would join the majority if only someone would give them a chance?
Youth unemployment does not discriminate it does not just affect the minority of young people who don’t want to work. Rhiannon had applied for over 400 jobs before finding YEUK and she was desperate and hungry for her 1st opportunity. Rhiannon is not the exception, she is the rule and we would do well as a society to remember that we have a duty of care for young people and should support and encourage them rather than add fuel to negative and unhelpful stereotyping.
Read more about the attitude and ambition of today’s teenagers in the NCS Report – Generation Citizen – NCS Report
The report shows the true face of the next generation. On just about every indicator, the popular stereotypes are wrong. Today’s teenagers are shown to be behaving more responsibly when it comes to drink and drugs; caring more about social issues both at home and abroad; and being more willing to get out and take action to make their world a better place.
Want to be involved with the work YEUK is doing to tackle youth unemployment?
- If you are a young person, you can join YEUK for free and contribute to reports, surveys and access lots of other benefits
- If you want to find out about volunteering with us click here
- If you are an organisation that considers themselves to be Youth Friendly and want to join YEUK to help us with our work click here