Research reveals polarised access to work for young people

A new study involving our University raises concerns that employment and career development opportunities for young people are becoming polarised between those with the resources to access secure, fulfilling employment and those on the path to precarious and unpredictable working lives with poor prospects.

The report, Present tense, future imperfect? Young people’s pathways into work is published today (28 September) and presents the findings of a three-year study examining the youth labour market in the Midlands from the perspectives of young people themselves, and their employers. The project was conducted by a team led by Professor Kate Purcell at the University of Warwick’s Institute for Employment Research.

Professor Melanie Simms (pictured), from our School of Business, led the sub-project looking at employers’ views of hiring and managing young workers.

She said: “Overall, employers are generally very positive about their experiences and recognise that a lot of young people need time to make the transition to work. In general, they feel they are competing for the talent of young people in a tough labour market and want to use a range of approaches to attract young people to their sectors and organisations.

“However, there are big differences between working patterns in different sectors which can lead to some problems for young people with work experience, fixed-term contracts and barriers to accessing some sectors.”