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The heart-breaking daily realities of living as a 'NEET'


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Tomorrow the Office for National Statistics (ONS) will release the latest unemployment figures from the last three months, and they are not expected to look good. In the last three month period, the amount of under 24s not in education or employment stood at 973, 000; this time the figures are expected to hit the one million mark. 

However, as much as the media and politicians throw such statistics around, they fail to grasp the heart-breaking realities experienced by those in the increasingly futile job quest. The 21 year-old skilled graduate who spends 14 hours a day in their bedroom sitting at their desk in their pyjamas and applying for countless positions to no avail does not need to be told that the future of the employment sector looks bleak.

Instead, politicians and those in the media need to sit down and really grasp what those statistics mean. 

I am one of those statistics. I am one of the over 900,000 young people not in employment and education – and I have to admit, living with that is significantly more challenging that I had imagined previously when referring to the demographic. 

Beforehand – although I would never have said this – I believed the 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 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.

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 find 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.

I see the same reflected in many people my age around me. Some cannot even get jobs in local shops to save money for travelling in the hope they can return when the employment market picks up. Former Financial Times statistician editor Simon Briscoe was quoted in The Independent arguing figures are misleading and not as bad as they sound, but I think he is the one who is misled. He has a great job – that 973, 000 number is just a figure for him.

But if you multiple the way I feel about the job market, career prospects and the future by 972, 999 people, then this country is in a precariously dire position and as society we need to act fast.

I just don’t know anyone who knows how. 


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