“Anxiety found to be key factor in youth unemployment ”

By Nina Jacobs

| 10 May 2019

Anxiety and depression are the biggest barriers faced by young people when looking for work, a new study has found.

The research, commissioned by charity UK Youth and Coca-Cola European Partners (CCEP), revealed that one in four young people aged 16 to 25 were still unemployed at least a year after leaving education.

The study, which drew on the responses of more than 2,000 people aged 16 to 60, found 55 per cent of the "Generation Zs" - those born between the mid-1990s and mid-2000s - felt anxiety was the main reason they had not yet found a job.

Nearly a third of this cohort (31 per cent) said they had experienced anxiety and depression when job hunting and it had affected their search for work.

The findings have been published as Reach Up, a joint programme developed by UK Youth and CCEP to offer support to young people to prepare them for the workplace, enters its second phase.

A four-month pilot was held last year which worked with 40 young people in the North West of England delivering workshops, networking masterclasses, mock interviews and work experience with CCEP's team.

Of those who completed the programme, 80 per cent said they felt more confident and 94 per cent said they had been given the knowledge they needed to find a job.

CCEP is investing £250,000 to provide Reach UP programmes to four more areas across the UK this year which will support 160 young people.

Despite the barriers identified in the research, the findings showed 30 per cent of young people aged 16 to 25 had found work less than a month after leaving education.

It also highlights the positivity of young people in this cohort with 81 per cent of respondents citing confidence as the main characteristic which would bring the biggest advantage in finding work.

Flexibility in terms of workplace location (59 per cent) and "having an academic record" (53 per cent) were other factors given that would help young people when trying to enter the workplace, the study said.

However, the research also points to practical barriers faced by some young people such as being a carer, not being able to drive or having a physical disability.

Patrick Shaw-Brown, director of national programmes at UK Youth, said the research highlighted the "mounting challenges" faced by young people looking for work.

"We hear a great deal about mental health issues in the workplace, but it's equally important to shine a light on the impact anxiety has when seeking employment. 

"The transition into employment is undoubtedly a tough experience for many young people, bringing with it challenges and responsibilities they may not be aware of, or equipped to cope with. 

"Many young people don't have, or don't recognise that they have, the confidence or relevant experiences needed to enter the workplace," he said.