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Taking the First Step in the Right Direction

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In the last month we have heard the news that youth unemployment fell by around 20,000 in the three months up to May. There is clearly a long way to go but people seem to be feeling a bit more optimistic about the job market for the first time in years. It feels great to know that more people are finding work and gaining the experience, not to mention self-confidence, that they need.

However, while finding a job can be a great boost, especially if someone has been struggling to gain employment, it doesn't mean that happiness automatically follows. According to research released last year, people in Britain people have lower levels of job satisfaction than in most other European countries. To those out of work it may seem unfair for someone to complain that they aren't happy with the type of work they are doing, but the more we like our jobs the better we do them. In the long run this doesn't just make us happy, it makes businesses more successful and increases employment even further.

People don't tend to be unhappy in jobs doing something that they love, so I think it's important that those entering the world of work for the first time are given as much information as possible on how to get into the career that they want. I speak to people all the time that say they chose subjects at school, college or university without a clear idea of what sort of job they wanted at the end of it. Having an education is extremely valuable, but we need to help people connect their choice of studies to a potential career at an earlier age so that they are better prepared to get the job they want when the time comes.

Employment may feel like the first step, but those of us working in our dream jobs would do well to remember how we got started and it was long before the first pay cheque came in.

Firstly we needed to be inspired. Too often young people haven't really considered what they are going to do when they leave school because they haven't been given the opportunity to discover what is out there. Parents, teachers and businesses can all help to create an idea or spark of inspiration that someone needs to set them on the right path.

Of course you may have an idea of what you want to do, but what do you do about it next? You need to know what qualifications you need and what experience is required to do the job you want. Good careers advice and information provided by employers can help you to find out what your next steps should be. In my opinion, however, few things are better than effective work experience.

Employers that provide a true experience of what a career in their field might entail can give young people the information and understanding they need to follow a path that will lead them to a happier career.

My passion for good work experience is why I became an Ambassador for LifeSkills, a programme created by Barclays to help one million young people get the skills they need for work. I'd like to use my experience to inspire young people to stay positive, to reassure them that things will get better and pass on some of the advice and tips that others gave me when I was starting out.

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