Citizens Advice Scotland have responded to new figures showing that young people in Scotland are in ‘despair’ over the economic downturn.
A new survey published today by the youth organisation FutureYou reports on the problems of young ‘NEETs’ (those who are not in Employment, Education or Training). Its Scottish breakdown includes the findings that:
- 64% of Scottish NEETs ‘feel bad about themselves,’
- 32% feel their ‘life is being wasted,’
- 28% had even considered suicide (this is higher than the UK average figure of 25%).
Responding to the report, CAS Chief Executive Lucy McTernan said,
“This survey backs up the evidence that Scotland’s CABs have been reporting for some time. There is no doubt that young Scots are being hit hard by the recession, and many of them are responding with a mixture of anger and despair.
“Sadly there is nothing new in the fact that many young people are unemployed. But the impact this is having on them is much greater than is generally realised. We at CAS undertook our own survey a few months ago, asking young Scots what they thought of their economic future. Some of the comments we received back from them were deeply shocking. (see examples below) and fore-shadowed the findings of this report today.
“Its not just unemployment itself that affects young people. Those who turn to the benefits system for help find that it actively discriminates against them, purely on grounds of age and for no obvious practical reason. Those under 25 will get 20% less in Jobseekers Allowance than those over 25. Similarly, young people who apply for Housing Benefit will find that they are entitled to less housing support than those over 25. With their access to affordable housing limited, many are getting into debt, and others are living at home for longer, delaying their transition to adulthood and independence.
“The economic problems faced by young people impact on their health, and will continue to affect it as they grow older. In particular, their mental health can be severely affected. Many of the young people who replied to our survey admitted to being depressed and lacking in hope for the future (see quotes below).
“These sorts of economic problems affect all groups in society, not just the young. But the evidence of our report, echoed by this report from FutureYou today, shows that young people are being hit particuarly hard. And this will dictate the future - not just of this generation but of the country as a whole.”
Notes to editors - click to expand/collapse
To arrange interviews with CAS spokespersons on this story, contact Tony Hutson 07774 751655.
The FutureYou report and press release can be obtained from Carmel Mulhall on 020 7693 6999. NB The report is under embargo till 00.01 on Tuesday 12 July.
The CAS Report, ‘Being Young Being Heard,’ was published in February 2011 and can be downloaded at www.cas.org.uk
Some quotes from young Scots in the CAS ‘Being Young Being Heard’ report:
NB These are anonymous – we felt young people would be more likely to respond if we assured their anonymity. They were all received in response to a survey of young Scots (aged 16-25) on the CAS website in the later half of 2010. The report was published in February 2011.
- Unemployed 20 year old: “I feel I should be doing more with my life at my age but financially, I just cannot afford to do anything because I have to claim benefits. I hate being on benefits. I feel like I have no pride in myself any more.”
- Unemployed 25 year old “...it is so hard to live on just JSA and very depressing at the prospect of having no job for months and months!”
- Unemployed 24 year old: “I know that I have the ability to get on in life because I have a degree and have held down decent and creative jobs before. I've found the lack of support so inhibiting. Jobseekers Allowance has saved me from destitution but it has not given me a leg up.”
- 17 year old in employment: “I had been looking for work since I left school when I was sixteen… while I was sitting in my house getting depressed ove why I wasn’t good enough for anyone to employ, my friends were out having a good time… finally, almost two years later, I have managed to find a job, and I feel worth something again…”
- Unemployed 20 year old: “I have one qualification and it’s for a very specific type of job but no experience to go with it. I have experience in another kind ofjob but no qualification. Nobody is willing to take me on for anything.”
- Unemployed 23 year old: “There are plenty of jobs out there, but I'm finding that I either don't have enough experience or the required qualifications. How am I supposed to gain experience if nobody is prepared to give me a job?”
- Unemployed 20 year old: “…it has been over a year since I left college and Ihave had exactly 2 interviews. I have been told far too many times that I was unsuccessful due to my lack of experience, though I do not know how I am supposed to get experience when I hardly ever get as far as an interview…”
- Unemployed 20 year old: “Nobody is willing to take me on for anything. I want to work, yet it’s like nobody will give me a chance.”
- Unemployed 23 year old: “it’s so hard to get a job and when you do find a good job you need experience and there are usually about another 100 people after it.”
- Unemployed 23 year old: “Using the Job Centre website as a means forlooking for jobs can be frustrating at times, I enter my details as required, and the results they give back to me are everything but what I had asked for and beyond the location I had entered. I have stopped using this now as it seems pointless!!”
- Unemployed 24 year old: “In May came out of an abusive relationship andhad to set up by myself. I have an ongoing mental health disability… I've found that the Jobcentre has not had the resources to support my complex situation; nor have the voluntary agencies I was referred to. When I ask about funding or programmes I am told that they used to exist but have now been cut.”
- Unemployed 22 year old: “I graduated with a science degree and intend tocontinue with postgraduate study. In order to do this, I am aware that I will need some more practical lab. experience, both for the experience and skills and to show enthusiasm and dedication etc. However, this matters not a jot to the Jobcentre (I was told explicitly so) who are pressuring me into getting a fulltime job unrelated to my degree or longer-term aims… they are pressuring (almost bullying) me into applying for these jobs, including 'phoning me up to point out vacancies I must apply for…”
- 24 year old in employment: “After graduating in 2008 I have struggled to find full-time permanent work. Since graduating I have been on temporarycontracts and have only been made permanent recently. I am however only inpart-time employment of 18 hours per week. At university I built up a student loan and have struggled to pay any of this off as my wages really only coverbasic expenses such as rent and bills.”
- 19 year old in employment: “I am struggling to get a permanent job. All jobs Ihave had have been on a short term contract and can't get a full time job. Atthe moment only work 21 hours.”
- 23 year old in a training course: “I am 23 years old. I have mild autism and Ihave been in paid employment before but there were some jobs that were positive and others were negative… 2 years ago, I had applied for a workplacement with [company name] in Glasgow. I thought that after the fourweeks trial, it would lead to paid employment but they kept me on for 7months without paying me. [Training provider} said in a letter that it was made clear to me that this was only work experience and that [company name] were going through a tough time with the economic crisis… I would like to know why companies like (company name] are getting away with this, it is terrible.”
- 18 year old student: “Many companies also offer internships for students- in other words you can get experience in the field you would like to work in but we won't pay you for the work you do. I would like to get experience in certain fields of work but I can't afford to do an internship really, as I need money tolive on for the next year, money to pay my rent, buy food. If I get the chance I probably will do an internship, but I will be very aware of the extra pressures I'll face the next year due to not having earned any money.”
- 24 year old in employment: “The only work available was internships, Iworked 3 different unpaid internships before getting a paid job over a period of 9 months. One of which was for 3 months, required full time hours making the job search extremely difficult.”
This is just a sample of the responses we received in our report. There are many other comments in the main document, ‘Being Young Being Heard’, which is available on www.cas.org.uk. We can provide further quotes on request.