THE BLOG

Stack the Deck in Your Favour

01/07/2013 02:09 BST | Updated 30/08/2013 10:12 BST

The economy, unemployment, the future...Politicians, economists and journalists are constantly debating these key issues for our country, but rarely come to an answer. But behind all this, there is a fairly simple truth: no matter what anybody says, jobs are hard to come by. We're in a situation where talented, motivated school leavers and graduates can send off a hundred CVs and not get a reply, and where a trip to the Job Centre is depressing rather than inspirational. And you know what, that just feels wrong. Surely we're going about this the wrong way?

When I was growing up, I didn't know what I wanted to do. If someone had told me age 14 to start making serious decisions about my career, I'd have laughed! I tried a load of jobs, not all of them were right for me. I got my transferrable skills from working at entry-level, gauging what I wanted from my career, and making sure I had what it took to get the one I truly wanted. But now there's a Catch 22: school leavers need experience to get jobs, but they can't get experience without jobs.

The workforce needs new blood, the energy and innovation which are abundant in youth. But with the older, and more experienced, workforce applying for the same job, those who need the experience most are often left in the cold. That is why I am an Ambassador for Barclays LifeSkills, it is a refreshing take on training: teach kids the skills they need before they leave school, then open up the work experience places to them that they are now qualified to undertake.

This gives them the ability to compete for the real jobs! It's not just me who thinks that this is clever, either. Research from the LifeSkills Youth Barometer revealed that nine out of 10 young people think that work experience isn't just helpful, but should be mandatory. While it hasn't been mandatory for the past year, anything that makes it more accessible is surely the right idea.

Ultimately, it's a buyer's market, and it's up to the applicant to make the most of their assets. During work experience, you'll no doubt pick up research skills, customer service skills, IT skills and possibly even public speaking skills. Take what you have, and make them count. Give examples of how each work experience placement used and improved your skills; make that time and effort worth it.

But, as ever, the most daunting thing is where to start. There's something unsettlingly impersonal about faceless e-mails to indifferent HR reps. Companies have recognised the need to change, and that's why events like The Sunemployment Roadshow exist. Over the next week, it will be travelling the length and breadth of the country, bringing the jobs and opportunities to you.

Not only are there panels where you can ask employers exactly what you want to know - not what people think you should know - there are also on-the-spot interviews with some of the UK's biggest employers. The jobs are there for the taking!

Young people aren't work shy, they just need the experience, training and direction to get the jobs they're fighting for. Use everything at your disposal, nothing is destined or fated - that's naïve thinking - but make sure you stack the deck in your favour. Let employers know exactly what you can do, and grab every opportunity.