Young women 'shut out of jobs market' by lack of support

By Judith Burns
Education and family reporter

Image source, Young Women's Trust
Image caption,
Going to the Job Centre is "disheartening", according to Young Women's Trust trainee Glynn, aged 26

Glynn, now 26, got pregnant at 16, and left school with very poor GCSEs.

It was a struggle to get work with a small baby in tow, and a bricklaying apprenticeship ended after three months, due to workplace bullying.

Glynn's story is typical of more than a quarter of a million young women who need more support to find work, according to the Young Women's Trust.

Being shut out of the workforce leads to isolation and depression for too many young women, says YWT in a report.

The latest official figures show 285,000 young women are currently classed as economically inactive (not working and not looking for work), and are also not in employment, education or training.

That is 82,000 more than the figure for young men.

Of these young women, almost a third would take jobs if they could and 86% want to work in the future, suggests the study.

But they face obstacles, such as unaffordable childcare and an expectation among some families that good mothers should stay at home with their children.

And for other young women who are not mothers, caring responsibilities for younger siblings or sick relatives can make paid work impossible.

Many of these young women struggle financially and too often develop mental health problems, the researchers found.

"There appears to be a vicious spiral, where a lack of appropriate employment opportunities leads to isolation and stress which leads to anxiety and depression, and which in turn make it harder to engage in work," says the report.

Dr Carole Easton, the trust's chief executive, said: "Young women are telling us they want to work but too often they are shut out of the jobs market by a lack of networks and support and a lack of convenient childcare.

"While the government focuses on reducing its unemployment figures, hundreds of thousands of women who are not included in the numbers are being forgotten."

Image source, Thinkstock
Image caption,
Lack of affordable childcare can be a problem for would-be women workers

The report calls for:

  • greater access to affordable childcare
  • one-to-one support to prepare young women for the workplace
  • better mental health provision
  • better careers guidance
  • and a new government minister for young people.

Glynn, from London, is now a trainee on a Young Women's Trust scheme.

Her son is now nine and she says his father's family have helped a lot with childcare - but she has sometimes struggled to hold down low-skilled jobs and often avoided signing on because "it's such a disheartening experience when you are in there.

"You need to be able to sell yourself as the best candidate for the job but it's hard to do this because the lack of support takes its toll on how you feel about work."

A government spokesman said: "There are more women in work than ever before - up by well over a million since 2010 with fewer than 5% of all young women unemployed and not in full-time education.

"And we're doing more than ever to support families with the cost of childcare by investing a record £6bn per year by the end of this Parliament, giving working parents up to 30 hours of childcare a week for three- and four-year-olds."

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