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Grim Unemployment Figures are More than Just Statistics

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Statistics released on Wednesday from the Office for National Statistics show record-breaking figures of unemployment over the last three months, revealing that almost a million 16 to 24 year-olds are out of work, education or training.

The newspapers will cover the issue, the government will respond, and those in well-respected employment will offer their thoughts on the current economic climate and younger generation.

Then they will return to their jobs, and the newspapers will cover another issue tomorrow.

However for thousands upon thousands of young people, the grim reality of the toughest employment market since records began will last well past tomorrow.

Statistics can be brandished about, but do those who do so genuinely grasp the heart-breaking and demoralising effect of this on their sons, daughters, nieces, nephews and family friends who endure the consequences of this day in and day out?

If not, then let me help them out.

It destroys your confidence, annihilates your belief in the economy and government, and dilutes the hopes you once had for a stable career. You feel frustrated, worthless and powerless in your struggle against the spiral toward the biggest cliché to hit the younger generation since the explosion of rock music in the 1960s.

Beforehand - although I would never have said this - I believed such statistics to be skewed, sensationalised for an alternative agenda, or simply untrue. I held the belief that those graduates without a job were ones who had not achieved a 2:1 at university, did not have any interests and were not involved in any activities outside school or their course, or simply just those with limited social skills who were basically just a bit weird.

Yet, this is not the case, and I vouch for that completely though experience of my own and of my friends. Unfortunately, having a 2:1 (in my case, English and Philosophy from the University of Southampton) does not guarantee you a job; having a Masters degree also does not guarantee you a job; neither does two years previous experience in related roles; nor holding several positions in university clubs or societies; nor does over two months of related unpaid work experience at similar organisations or companies; or glowing references from influential companies you have also previously worked for; or being recognised for recommended extra-curricular interests such as achieving the Duke of Edinburgh Award and helping on a local community project; or trying to start up your own project or business; or winning awards for previous achievements or work.

Mostly, recruitment agencies and human resources departments never get back to you - if you're lucky you get a rejection letter. All from applying for positions from 8am until 10pm on a daily basis, editing your CV every other hour, re-writing covering letters for every position, contacting recruitment agencies constantly, trying every job website online, combing the papers daily, and contacting everyone you've ever known to ask about any available positions.

I know this because I have achieved all those accomplishments, and I have tried all these things.

My CV has been checked by numerous people and companies. I've ensured any personal information on social networking sites is hidden by privacy settings or is perfectly suitable to be seen by potential employers. Despite what this whinging article may imply, I would like to think my social and inter-personal skills are good - I'm polite, confident and conscientious.

But I feel as if there's a big secret I'm oblivious to and not in on.

Is there?!

Targeting positions and companies, I have not even been arrogantly selective in my search, applying as well for the most lowly paid roles, or jobs that one would not necessarily immediately imagine to be that competitive. While my ideal role would be working as a reporter on a newsdesk, I've been applying increasingly for any entry-level jobs in marketing, research, sales and recruitment where I feel I can use my writing skills.

There are a million things to get upset about in the world, and I know that deflation of confidence in job hunting is definitely nowhere near any of these things to be considered as something you can lose sleep over and find the end of the world. And despite what many think graduates believe, I did not finish my Masters thinking I would walk straight into an amazing job. I knew it would be hard.

But not like this.

If you multiple the way I feel about the job market, career prospects and the future by the other million odd other young people searching for employment, then the government need to be aware that they are not sleepwalking into a crisis, but imminently falling at hundreds of miles per hour toward it.

This country is in a precariously dire position and as society we need to act fast.

The thing is, hands up anybody who knows how?

Around the Web

UK unemployment highest in 17 years - FT.com

BBC News - UK unemployment total reaches 17-year high

U.K. Unemployment Hits 16-Year High - WSJ.com

UK unemployment higher than expected: reaction - Telegraph

U.K. Unemployment Increases to 8.1%, Highest in 15 Years ...

UK unemployment: Jobless total soars to 17-year high | Mail Online

UK unemployment jumps as economy falters | Business | guardian ...