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Job centres are failing young people, finds Queen Mary Olympics survey

Government-run job centres are failing young people who are searching for work, suggests research by Queen Mary, University of London.

20 December 2011


Students from the School of Geography surveyed over 160 people attending recruitment events with Olympic contractors in October and November 2011.

The surveys showed that 81 per cent of those put forward to apply for catering and retail positions at next year’s Olympic Games were under the age of 20.

It also revealed that while unemployment is a worry for young Londoners, a large number are keen to secure full or part time jobs at the 2012 Games because it is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. When asked about their reasons for wanting a job, the top response (from 35 per cent of respondents) was simply: “because it’s the Olympics”.

When asked what methods of finding work they had previously used, nearly 40 per cent said they had never used Job Centre Plus. Of those who had used it, more than half rated the service as ‘not useful’ or ‘not at all useful’, with only 20 per cent describing it as ‘useful’.

Opinion was divided on the benefit of online job searches, with 42 per cent describing them as ‘useful’ or ‘very useful’ and 38 per cent as ‘not useful’ or ‘not at all useful’.

Many event attendees expressed frustration at feeling like they were ‘just a number’ whilst looking for work at the Job Centre or online, although one respondent commented that online searches were “more convenient because you don’t have to travel just to be turned down”.

Others suggested that alternative methods, such as using personal contacts, were much more likely to result in a job. Many preferred a face-to-face application process, such as a recruitment event, because they felt treated as an individual and had a better opportunity to show their capabilities to a potential employer.

In contrast, feedback on the registration and contractor events organised by London Citizens and the London 2012 Organising Committee (LOCOG) was overwhelmingly positive, with 97 per cent of those who took part in the survey describing their experience as ‘positive’ or ‘very positive’.

The majority of applicants were women, 80 per cent were British nationals and over 90 per cent were of Black African, Black Caribbean and Asian Bangladeshi ethnicity. All those who attended the events were from Olympic boroughs, or those directly neighbouring them. The majority were under 20, but this was partly due to the location of two of the events at Queen Mary and Sir George Monoux College, Waltham Forest.

Professor Jane Wills of Queen Mary’s School of Geography said: “This research shows just how vital it is that community groups such as London Citizens are empowered to broker employment, rather than just leaving it up to contractors who may not hire locally.”

“The success of recent Olympic recruitment events highlights the importance of taking local jobs straight to local people, and the value of promoting these events to young people through their schools and colleges. Our students have shown that young people are keen to be a part of the Olympic experience and that they believe the work they do at the Games will be hugely important in helping them find work in the future.”

The students’ research was commissioned by The East London Communities Organisation (TELCO), part of London Citizens, to measure the success of ‘job-facilitating’ events in getting local people into local jobs.

For media information, contact:

Rupert Marquand
Public Relations Manager
Queen Mary University of London
email: r.marquand@qmul.ac.uk
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