Unemployment… Yes, it’s still happening

The one thing that has been a much smaller problem for me then many of my friends at university is finance. Though the majority of us, myself included, do get government grants and loans as well as various burseries, budgeting is never really a top skills. In my first year I’d essentially blown my £1,500 a term grant as well as my £750 overdraft by Christmas- and given that my rent took up over a grand of that I could essentially see my social life draining down the plug hole. Though, who am I kidding? Students, no matter how skint we get, can always afford a night out.

But that’s irrelevant.

As I’ve said before, I’ve been working since I was 14 apart from a few months of unemployment when I came to Preston. The majority of that take I’ve juggled more than one job- at one point I had been working three. Yes, a bit greedy I know, but it’s more strenuous than many would imagine. And definitely meant no social life.

Panorama recently highlighted the issues of unemployment in an episode called Jobs for the Boys? Now, given the title I was pretty quick to jump to the conclusion that it was targeted at unemployment among males in general. This was a bit silly, especially given my knowledge of social statistics (read: to use Google). Typically in the employment battle of the sexes, males for always won and more recent statistics show that 10.7 per cent of males were unemployed in 2012 compared to 10.8 per cent of females

So it wasn’t general, but admittedly the use of the term “boy” made me think of teenage boys. Youth unemployment is skyrocketing at the minute, as I’m sure you’ve heard moaned about to no end. Many link it to increases in crime, but it is important to note that many of the 16-25 year olds (the age range which qualifies as “youth”) who are labelled as unemployed may also be in full time education. This is where the NEETs (Not in Education, Employment or Training) come into play but that’s another story. Basically, we all know kids are struggling for work.

But no, the episode focused on a particular group of boys- and this particular group I understand as one of the most disadvantaged especially when it comes to education and, in this case, employment. It focuses on the black British male teenagers.

Now, over the past three years of my degree it’s this group who are repeatedly highlighted as achieving the poorest grades as a whole. The one black British guy that we had in our class only strengthen this with the fact he never turned up to class and typically only scraped a third, however, his two year old son also required caring for so it was possibly more of a case of juggling than crime. But I don’t know the guy that well…

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The first part that I was impressed with was the fact they pulled in Sol Campbell to host the show. Now, I will be the first person to admit that I know nothing about football but even I know a face like Campbell. No, it’s not his fame that impressed me though that probably impacted it, it was the fact that they used one of the more successful black British males. Research repeatedly shows that a person is more likely to respond positively to a successful role model who they can relate to, particularly in the cases such as this. So even if Campbell was using this as a publicity stunt, I doubt the guys in the show cared too much.

The show also highlighted another vital factor which impacts all of us students, and those others who are unemployed: hands-on experience. Though this moves away from the race aspect, it was inspiring to see that Campbell and Panorama had worked to gain these boys experience in the industry, especially using the role models that they could relate to. These employers also seemed willing to hand out advice and encouragement where needed too.

Ultimately I really enjoyed the documentary, and though it was inspiring to see something focused on such a disadvantaged group it could also be effective in encouraging other people who may be struggling to find work.

Definitely worth a watch!

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