Unemployment figures released on Wednesday show nearly one million 16 to 24 year olds are currently out of work. The downturn has affected Britain's youth from across the economic spectrum.
Three graduates told the Huffington Post UK of their experiences in the job market.
Dan Phillips, a 24-year-old from Sheffield, graduated from the University of Hull with a BA in creative writing in 2008. Having returned home, he found it impossible to find full-time or temporary employment.
"I was looking for general work,” he said. “For more than a year I found it impossible to find employment. I signed on to Job Seekers allowance, which was pretty depressing. It is so difficult to get out of that cycle once you’re in it. Nothing was available. Every week I’d go along and they’d ask me what I’d done to find a job. After a while I just started lying. I told them that I was looking but I wasn't. "There was just no point."
After year of unemployment, Dan enrolled on a Masters course at the University of Sheffield, studying journalism. He graduated in 2010 but found the job market hadn’t changed.
"It’s still pretty bad,” he said. “Sheffield is a huge public sector city – the biggest employers are the two universities, the council and the NHS. With the new government coming in, and the whole Tory plan to replace the public with private, opportunities look likely to be even scarcer. I have had some temporary work in call centres for William Hill and M&S, and I now work eight hours a week in the media centre in Sheffield University Student Union, but it’s less than I would be earning on Job Seekers.”
Laurence Panter is also a 24-year-old graduate. He studied music at Cambridge. After graduating in 2008, he signed up with several temp agencies in Coventry. Struggling to find work, he moved to London at the end of 2008.
“There was little work in London either, so I started teaching piano,” he tells the Huffington Post UK. “I signed up with several teaching agencies and currently work about 10 hours piano tutoring a week. I also spend eight hours a week in a school as a teaching assistant.”
“Last year I went to Beijing to work in a primary school. Now I’m back, people are encouraging me to stay with the teaching, but I’m struggling financially.
“I live in Finsbury Park, North London, and a lot of my work is in Hampton Court and Putney. As such, I’m cycling as many places as possible. Overheads are a real problem.”
“Ideally, I would like to take a post-graduate course in music, but I just can’t afford it.”
Matt Lambert, a 21-year-old from Walthamstow, East London, has struggled to find a position in his chosen field of Journalism since graduating from the University of Nottingham earlier this year.
"I graduated in June and like most graduates I'm struggling with the debt," he told The Huffington Post UK.
For the last four weeks he has been working in a part-time role for 23 hours every week in a Waitrose supermarket until he is able to secure long-term employment.
"It's good work experience, but not ideal," he said.
Though he has completed work experience placement at a publishing house, the current state of the labour market has dramatically impinged on his employment prospects. Though he applies for numerous vacancies, he "never hears" from employers to whom he has applied.
Matt is critical of the reluctance by most employers to offer any suggestions or advice on how to improve his application, though he is maintaining a positive attitude for the future and plans to continue to apply for positions through the economic downturn.