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Can’t Work, Won’t Work:
Young People, Older Workers and the Labour Market
Part I Youth, Discrimination and the Labour Market: Problem or Stereotype?
Belinda Freda University of Surrey
Part II People aged 50 and above in the Glasgow area
Dr Pamela Clayton University of Glasgow
Published in the UK in September 2005 by The SEQUAL Development Partnership (DP) Department of Political, International & Policy Studies Division of Law and Politics School of Arts, Communication and Humanities University of Surrey Guildford Surrey GU2 7XH UK http://www.surrey.ac.uk/politics/cse/sequal.htm
© The SEQUAL DP and individual authors ISBN 0-904242-57-9
CONTENTS The SEQUAL Development Partnership (DP) 1
PART I - Youth, Discrimination and the Labour Market: Problem or Stereotype?
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY 1 1.1 1.2 1.3 2 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 2.7 2.8 2.9 2.10 3 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 3.7 4 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 INTRODUCTION TO THE RESEARCH Research Methodology The Generation Game Policy Discrimination and ‘Deviant’ Stereotypes OVERVIEW OF ISSUES Young People and the Labour Market : Statistical Overview Young People in the Changing Labour Market Skills Shortages and Gaps The New Deal for Young People Connexions 14-19 Pathfinders 14-19 Reform Higher Education The ‘Burden of Opportunity’ How Soon is Now? - Achieving ‘Life Statuses’ RESEARCH Questionnaires Young people and Youth ‘Experts’ Employment Spheres of Influence and Stakeholder Responsibility Employability – ‘Attributes’ Needs– ‘Empowerment Indicators’ – Projects and Programmes Discrimination and Diversity OTHER ISSUES Health Geographical Isolation and Spatial Inequalities Language Citizenship and Participation 2
4 8 10
13 17 20 21 23 24 24 25 27 30 32 33 34 35 37 39 41
43 45 46 47 49 52 57 58 60 62 65 66 67
CONCLUSIONS & RECOMMENDATIONS
ANNEX 1 ANNEX 2 ANNEX 3 ANNEX 4 ANNEX 5 ANNEX 6 ANNEX 7 REFERENCES & BIBLIOGRAPHY
PART II - People aged 50 and above in the Glasgow area
Executive summary……………………………………………………………. 72 Introduction: employability and discrimination ……………………………… The philosophy of employability……………………………………….. The notion of the 'employable' worker………………………………… Discrimination: the business case? …………………………………… Discrimination: the cost ………………………………………………… Conclusion: the relationship between employability and discrimination ………………………………………………………. 74 74 75 76 77 77
1 The research……………………………..…………………………………… 78 2 Quantitative research: a statistical summary of the labour market situation of people aged 50 and above, with particular reference to Glasgow City…………………………………………………………………...… 2.1 The economic activity of older people in the United Kingdom ... 2.2 A comparison between Scotland and the rest of the United Kingdom …………………………………………………………………. 2.3 The economic activity of older people in Glasgow ……………… 3 Selected literature: older people in and out of the UK labour market…. 3.1 Unemployment and economic inactivity in later years ………….. 3.2 Who leaves early, who stays on and why? ………………………. 3.2.1 The role of qualifications…………………………………………. 3.2.2 Leisure and caring responsibilities ……………………………… 3.2.3 Health……………………………………………………………….. 3.2.4 Class ……………………………………………………………….. 3.2.5 Discrimination in employment ……………………………………
79 79 80 81 83 83 84 85 85 85 86 86
4 Qualitative research: Older people and the labour market: the real lives behind the statistics …………………………………………………………….. 88 4.1 Being excluded - four case studies ……………………………….. 91 4.2 Early exit on health grounds - eight case studies ……………….. 95 4.3 Early exit through choice? - seven case studies ………………… 99 4.4 Staying on or returning despite illness - four case studies …..... 102 4.5 Happy workers - five case studies …………………………………104 4.6 Struggling on? - five case studies ……………………………….…106 5 Examples of good practice …………………………………….…………...108 Conclusions: older people in the Glasgow City labour market ……….… 110 Bibliography: Age discrimination in the United Kingdom labour market.....111 Appendix 1: Shortened version of Interview schedule used in the Learning …………………………………………………………….113
SEQUAL Development Partnership (DP)
The SEQUAL project was funded through the European Social Fund under the ‘employability’ strand of the Community Initiative EQUAL Programme. The SEQUAL DP was made up of 8 HEIs across the UK, and was research based (rather than beneficiary or service focused), making it unique among EQUAL Round I DPs (20012005). Each partner undertook local ‘bottom-up’ research, leading on at least one ‘theme’ or area of discrimination. These themes, (below) represent areas of discrimination where legislation does or will soon exist. The thematic domains each represent a work package (WP) Age University of Glasgow with University of Surrey Edge Hill College of HE with London Metropolitan University University of Bristol University of Warwick London Metropolitan University with Edge Hill College of HE University of Sussex
Religious and political belief
Disability Gender and class Race and ethnic origin
SEQUAL also recognised that there are important issues which traverse all the above thematic domains such as geographical isolation, language, and health and therefore another theme/domain was included Cross cutting issues (CCIs) University of Wales, Bangor
Together with the University of Glasgow, the University of Surrey researched ‘Age’, specifically older workers and youth or young people respectively. For the University of Glasgow, the research area was Glasgow City while for the University of Surrey, the ‘local’ research area was London. Final Reports on each theme, a collection of all the Executive Summaries and a SEQUAL film in either DVD or VHS format are available from http://www.surrey.ac.uk/politics/cse/sequal-final-reports.htm
INTRODUCTION AND AIMS
There are around 6.4 million 16-24 year olds (1 in 9 of the population in the UK). As of October 2004, 1.9 million were unemployed representing 42.2% of the total unemployed population (aged 16 and over) – twice the number of any other age group. Today, less than 15% of 16 year old school leavers find full-time employment. This group is, on the one hand, highly amorphous and their experiences vary. Unemployment among young people aged 16-24 ranges from 37% among young Bangladeshi people to 11% among White youth. Concurrently, young people are collectively burdened with negative stereotypes. They are viewed as lazy, untidy and being ‘spoilt’. Such simplistic stereotypes have been levelled at each generation of young people. What young people do share are similar generational attitudes and unique characteristics, ‘culturally’ defined by current political, economic and technological events and developments in society, (e.g. the ‘IT generation’), as Beh states, [M]en resemble the times more than they do their fathers, (Andrew Beh, 1996, ‘Generations’ and Political Science: The Importance of Taking Time Seriously). Legislation to combat age discrimination in the workplace will come into force in October 2006. Research has illustrated though, that many young people do believe they are victims of ageism in the workplace, manifested in the attitudes and prejudices of their colleagues and managers and by a lack of, or no access, to training and staff development, (Eversheds, The Work Foundation). In relation to employability, there is cynicism and pessimism about young people’s job readiness as they lack the appropriate and soft skills which the economy needs. As a result, education policy has come under scrutiny and criticism for a number of reasons. Although more young people are getting degrees, skills gaps stubbornly remain resulting in the weakening of the worth of HE qualifications. In turn, an education policy, which places more value on traditional qualifications and HE, helps to maintain the prejudice that vocational or unorthodox routes are ‘remedial’ and second best. The empowering research undertaken by the University of Surrey, looked at young people’s characteristics vis-à-vis a changing labour market and society (from paternalism to self-reliance, stability to uncertainty and changing values, motivations and relationships), while also exploring the importance and responsibility of other stakeholders (schools, peers, parents/guardians, the media, employers and projects). The researcher aimed to • research issues surrounding the labour market and young people • research issues surrounding discrimination • explore the experiences and employment needs of young people at work • research ‘who’ young people are and how their characteristics are constructed vis-àvis a changing labour market • explore the roles of other stakeholders: parents/guardians, peers, programmes/ projects, schools, the media and employers • look at issues of empowerment • provide a broad and better understanding of young people.
The researcher chose to prioritise a broad approach and looked at all young people rather than focusing on particular sub-sections of youth such as those form Black, Minority and Ethnic (BME) communities, or those who are disabled or homeless, since studies and research on particular sub-groups already exist. The researcher did not want to encroach on other SEQUAL themes, and took youth as the main, although not exclusive, research criteria. The methodology used was open and unfolding rather than closed and pre-determined, allowing the research to be continually informed. This led to a more open dialogue between researcher and young people and resulted in evidence based and experiential (rather than presumed) key findings. Most of the examples of discrimination given by young people and the negative stereotypes they face are seen to be merely part and parcel of being young. The view below is a common one, I don't believe the legislation should cover people under 40 because what the young experience is not age discrimination but the realisation that they have to gain experience in low level jobs before rising to the ranks -- which the good ones do very quickly and at higher salaries than most people over 50. It's lack of experience and maturity, not age discrimination, (Joyce Glasser, published lobbyist against age discrimination). Even so, the research has observed and noted the following examples of discrimination, prejudice and negative stereotyping experienced by young people based on their own perceptions. Importantly, none of these examples of discrimination are exclusive to young people. 1) the difficulty of obtaining a good (first) job - when they lack skills, qualifications and/or experience This is rational economic behaviour – or ‘the business case’, in a competitive labour market where employers are in a battle to attract the best employees. This applies to all the SEQUAL themes. 2) negative stereotyping - (and 7 below), as being unreliable, scruffy, incapable, unable to communicate or are labelled as excluded and disadvantaged This is also applicable to all SEQUAL themes although stereotypes may vary. This is nothing new, since youth culture and young people have consistently been viewed as problematic and ‘deviant’. Public opinion and policy tends to target and view young people en masse, e.g. press releases from the Home Office refer to “new tools to tackle yobs” and “fighting back against louts”. 3) being given the “crap jobs” to do at work (photocopying, making tea and coffee, doing the post run, cleaning etc.) This can again apply to all the SEQUAL themes. The view that an employee must ‘begin at the bottom’ to gain experience is too simplistic; some individuals may be (stuck) in jobs which do not reflect their abilities, (e.g. disabled individuals and refugees).
4) ‘LIFO’ - when staff are laid off based on a ‘last in, first out’ policy. This can affect young people more than older workers, especially when extra criteria such as experience and training are taken into account This can apply to all the SEQUAL themes and could, for example happen to women returning to work or any new employee. 5) young employees receive no or inadequate training in work This can apply to all, irrespective of age with low skills and qualifications. Access to training will be part of the new legislation, although it is difficult to see how this will be monitored and regulated effectively. There is a business case to argue here, as investing in staff (of all ages) leads to better staff retention rates, the sustainability and development of corporate knowledge and a reduction of recruitment costs, leading to a more stable and productive economy. 6) not being taken seriously or valued, given responsibility, respect, praise or rewarded on a ‘job well done’ Again, this is not exclusive to young people, although ‘being valued’ came up repeatedly in the research as a key issue affecting motivation and loyalty. As the Employers Forum on Age state, [A]geism is deeply entrenched in society and the workplace. Valuing people of all ages within the workforce and regarding them all as a sustainable rather than a disposable resource is essential for our future prosperity, (www.efa.org.uk) 7) being seen as ‘lucky’ and ‘spoilt’ - by the media and older generations therefore expectations of success are high. In the workplace, young people are often viewed as ‘pushy’ and ‘ambitious’. This is a common view between generations. Also being seen to be impatient, ambitious and pushy is not exclusive to young people, (e.g. women) The research was challenging as no consensus or ‘benchmarks’ exist in relation to age discrimination (and young people). Other ‘domains’ such as ‘ethnicity/ race’ ‘gender’ and ‘disability’ are much more established in terms of literature and legislation but they are also ‘set’ in terms of being defining characteristics (e.g. gender and ethnicity). There is little clear evidence or literature in terms of employment discrimination and young people in particular, or young people and discrimination in general. These and other findings with recommendations are explored in the Conclusion.
INTRODUCTION TO THE RESEARCH
1.1 Research Methodology The involvement and input of young people was central to the research as it is only through experiential evidence based research that lessons can be adequately learned. By working with young people, the research aimed to highlight and articulate issues which impact on young people, their lives and views. Community youth groups in Greenwich, Lambeth, Southwark and Wandsworth as well Connexions central offices all
over London were contacted by post and email. The research adopted a snowball method of recruitment through Connexions advisors and youth workers, who disseminated information about the research to their clients. The young people involved in the research were volunteers, they received no financial or material incentives and gave their time freely. A ‘voluntary participation’ method was favoured as it was felt that financial incentives was a negative motivator which could have led to bias, exaggerated or distorted views and opinions. The project adopted a holistic approach in order to better understand the processes and complexities of discrimination and employability in relation to young people. The project used a range of methods to collect and collate information and to explore and discuss emerging findings, including
• • • •
desk research literature searches and reviews: academic and everyday media generic questionnaire: this was used with young people, NDYP advisors, community youth groups and youth ‘experts’ interviews: the research ‘tracked’ 5 young people meetings with youth ‘experts’ (these key individuals acted as a ‘reference and advisory group’ for the project, commenting on emerging issues and findings)the research adopted a broad hermeneutical approach, emphasizing the need to understand issues from the perspective of the social actor (young person). the approach used was qualitative, emphasising perception and experience observation, (Hermeneutics).
‘Tracking’ involved exploring with young people their attitudes, experiences and knowledge of discrimination, career aspirations, employment, the labour market and how this may or may not have changed over time. Wider issues such as the importance and influence of other ‘stakeholders’, their ‘community’ and citizenship were also explored. I met with and interviewed several youth ‘experts’ involved in the Connexions programme; advice and counselling work; a behaviour improvement project and a consultant who has experience of youth work. A generic questionnaire was developed and sent to community youth groups and New Deal for Young People advisers across London, (Annex 1). This questionnaire was also used with the ‘tracked’ young people and the youth ‘experts’. ‘Observation’ and interpretation of everyday events and experiences – social scenes and interactions -played a key role in the research. A major part was to look at and use material from everyday media - press and television as well as current literature, both academic journals and articles. Although the research did not look primarily at particular subsections of young people but rather viewed ‘Youth’ as a whole, the diverse experiences of young people were noted. The solidity of the category of youth presumes a fixed life stage rather than a social process and in its simplicity does not adequately recognise that the lives of young
people are as varied and as difficult as those of adults. As such, ‘diversity’ was taken account of from the individuals’ perspective. Even so, a holistic method was favoured for a number of reasons Firstly, it mirrored policy, public opinion and the media which views young people en masse, as an almost static immoveable block with each generation having almost identical ‘deviant’ behaviour (e.g. drug abuse, under age sex and having low moral values). Secondly, a holistic approach was felt not to encroach on other SEQUAL work packages (ethnicity, disability etc.), allowing for ‘youth’ to be the primary focus, criteria or denomination in the research although as mentioned, wider issues were explored during interviews and in literature searches and reviews. Thirdly, the approach recognised that a body of high quality specialised or specific research on such subsections such as homeless young people, young people in or leaving care, teenage mothers and BME young people already exists (e.g. in academia, Centrepoint, Joseph Rowntree Foundation, Social Exclusion Unit and the Home Office). Finally, it was felt to be more equitable in that it did not focus on particular subsections of young people allowing more generic issues to emerge. The research adopted an approach which was ‘loose’ and ‘unfolding’ as opposed to ‘tight’ and ‘pre-specified’ allowing the work to be constantly informed and to adapt to emerging findings. This approach allowed a certain freedom and a continuous process of reflection and consultation throughout the research, as Miles and Huberman state, The conventional image of field research is one that keeps pre-structured design to a minimum. Many social anthropologists and social phenomenologists consider social processes to be too complex, too relative, too elusive, or too exotic to be approached with explicit conceptual frames or standard instruments. They prefer a more loosely structured, emergent, inductively ‘grounded’ approach to gathering data: the conceptual framework should emerge from the field in the course of the study; the important research questions will become clear only gradually; meaningful settings and actors cannot be selected prior to the fieldwork; instruments; if any, should be derived from the properties of the setting and its actors’ views of them. (Miles and Huberman, 1994, p.17).
Figure 1: Pre-specified versus unfolding: the timing of structure
Specified research questions• Tightly structured design• Pre-structured data•
•General guiding questions • Loosely structured design • Data not pre-structured
(Source: Punch, 2000, p.23)
Consistent with this, the researcher used a hermeneutic approach, which in the social sciences is concerned with the theory and method of interpretation of human action. Hermeneutics emphasizes the need to understand from the perspective of the social actor, (Bryman, 2001, p.504).
Young people have limited experience of the labour market and the influences and impact of other ‘players’, ‘structures’ and relationships are vital in understanding how young peoples’ opinions are shaped. Concurrently, it was important to consider how young people are viewed and to interpret, (or attempt to), how and why these perceptions and definitions occur, since stereotypes can lead to prejudice resulting in discrimination. The characteristics given to generations are defined by the changing social, political and economic situation of the time, “Age relations (including youth) are part of the economic relations and political and ideological structures in which they take place. It is not the relations between ages which explain the changes or stability in society, but changes in societies which explains the relations between ages”, (Allen, 1968, p.321) A number of areas were examined to varying degrees, • The experience and attitudes of young people • Youth policies and programmes • The ‘changing’ labour market • Employability issues • Characteristics of the ‘youth’ generational group • Discrimination issues • The role and responsibilities of other stakeholders (parents, peers, schools, programmes and employers). By looking at youth and young people as a whole, the research utilised a cultural generational approach, which juxtaposed the contemporary cultural influences and the characteristics of young people. Such an approach was seen to better illuminate and explain the needs, concerns, barriers and disadvantage faced by young people in an increasingly borderless yet smaller and impersonal world. Statistics were used sparingly as they were felt to be too limiting.
This report aims to explore, explain and illustrate the condition and situation of ‘youth’ and young people vis-à-vis discrimination, employment and employability. A ‘cultural’ generation approach (outlined below), was adopted to achieve this. By talking with young people, those who work with them and by using everyday sources and materials, this report attempts to inform, explain and ultimately to present a ‘real’ picture from the point of view of young people. • • • • Part 1 of this report concludes by highlighting examples of policy or structural discrimination and profiles ‘deviant’ behaviour among young people Part 2 gives an overview of the main issues, such as educational reform, the changing labour market and HE policy (amongst other subjects) and explores these in terms of their affect on young people Part 3 looks specifically at the field research undertaken Part 4 explores other SEQUAL themes in relation to young people.
This report concludes with 7 Annexes. These can be used for reference (e.g. good practice and statistics) and as resources (list of youth organisations and programmes).
1.2 The Generation Game It proved problematic in establishing what, apart from their similar (chronological) age, is actually distinctive about youth, as Mizens point out, there is nothing about the status of being in full-time education that makes it uniquely youthful, as both the large numbers of primary school children and mature further and higher education students readily testify. Nor is the experience of unemployment a uniquely, or even a majority, youthful one. Conversely, there is also nothing about the quality of being in work that makes it definitively adult so that entry into work may be deemed to mark the closure of youth, (2002). A generation can be defined and measured by (a) chronological time, (b) social time(s), and historical time(s). By looking at discrimination, the research aimed to obtain a deeper and better understanding of how and why age discrimination and prejudice against young people is constructed in order to better understand young people, their views, behaviour and aspirations. It became very clear that some opinions, prejudices and characteristics are common in almost every generation (e.g. being ‘scruffy’) but that there are particular generational ones also, (e.g. being ‘IT savvy’), (Table 3 below illustrates the defining characteristics given to the three most recent generations). The simplistic definitions of ‘youth culture’ and stereotypes of young people conceal the more specific generational characteristics that mirror wider society. What became clear in the research is that much of the criticism and simplistic stereotypes levelled at young people were unreasonable and misplaced, [T]he youth question has almost become a metaphor for all that has gone wrong in society and yet in very real terms it is young people, or rather some sections of young people, who are bearing the brunt of critical changes in the way society discharges its responsibility to its citizens, (Roche and Tucker, 2002, p.3). Thus, age, specifically young people, and subsequently the youth question have been politicised and regulated by the state, through structures and policies, (Wallace and Kovatcheva). Table 3 Recent generations and their defining characteristics Baby Boomers Generation X Generation Y (Why?) (DOB 1946 – 1964) (DOB 1965 – 1975(-80)) (DOB 1976 (-80)– current) • two distinct and sometimes conflicting attitudes: social activism and individualism • saw massive changes in attitudes to many social issues : the sexual revolution, mass political action for causes (war opposition, civil rights and feminism) • a period of radical upheavals in popular • a cultural idea, rather than a demographic term • rebel against the idealism of the baby boomers • lacks a core: a crisis of identity, the 'squeezed' generation • the most immigrant generation born in the twentieth century • ‘work to live’ instead of ‘live-to-work’ outlook • lean toward pragmatism 8 • confident, self-reliant, optimistic and positive • live for the moment attitude • give respect only after they are treated with respect • make less clear distinctions between what is right and wrong • earn in order to consume (more disposable income) • conditioned by technology
and non-affiliation; feeling culture such as the betrayed, sceptical and maturity of rock and roll with a distrust of authority as an art form, (also • credited with a new growth Punk) • Currently make up 29% of of entrepreneurship and the resulting dot-com boom the population (Census • seen as overqualified 2001) and have a lot of slackers political power • view jobs within the context of a contract, since they believe lifelong employment is never going to be theirs (progress blocked by baby boomers!) •
to expect instant results/ answers • entrepreneurial, outsidethe-box thinkers who relish responsibility • enter the work force with a lack of basic traditional skills • feel that just showing up for work is a worthy effort • respond best to marketing that brings the message to places they congregate (“communities of interest”) • more racially diverse
Douglas Coupland. Generation X: Tales for an Accelerated Culture, pg.142 (Source: various www.)
A generation is usually defined demographically, but both generations X and Y are cultural and social rather than demographic generations. There are also specific generations (or cohorts) such as ‘Thatcher’s generation’ who came of age between 1979 and 1987. Their characteristics reflect the significant socio, economic and political changes that have taken place and which have affected how we live, work and socialise. The generational timescales reflect that developments are occurring more rapidly and are more profound. The turnaround of changes and developments therefore are evolving at such a rate that they are becoming obsolete and irrelevant quicker, (especially in ICT), and as a result culturally defined ‘generations’ may be becoming blurred and shorter. Paradoxically though, the period of ‘youth’ is becoming more drawn out and extended due to a divergence of experience. At one extreme young people are leaving school at 16 and becoming parents, while the majority (at the other extreme) are continuing into FE, HE and are delaying achieving adult statuses (living
independently, marriage and having children). There remains a distinct socio-economic class distinction between these two paths.
1.3 Policy Discrimination and ‘Deviant’ Stereotypes Research shows that age discrimination is predominantly viewed as an ‘older worker’ issue. Of approximately 62 AgePositive Good Practice Case Studies (www.agepositive.gov.uk), 45 are older worker orientated and geared towards information on older workers. However, a recent survey of over 2,000 employers shows that 58% of younger workers (aged 16-25) compared to 47% of those aged 45+ felt that they have been discriminated against on the grounds of their age or lack of experience, (Eversheds, September 2004). The research also revealed that one third of employees believed that the legislation will only protect older workers. Surprisingly, 20% of HR professionals and nearly 40% of senior managers believed the legislation was designed to protect older workers only. This illustrates the ignorance and lack of information that currently exists among employees but most worryingly, employers. Although the presence of a National Minimum Wage (NMW), (Table 1, below), is positive, recent UNISON and YMCA reports (2003 and 2004) highlight the negative effects of the low NMW and raise important inter-related issues and concerns, namely, (i) the level is too low. The research showed that 16 and 17 year olds were already beginning to be paid above the £3 rate set in 2004, which has led to concerns that wages are being kept artificially low, (UNISON and YMCA, 2003) (ii) enforcement is problematic and lacks teeth so abuses go predominantly unchecked, and (iii) the low level of the NMW alongside stringent benefit rules only exacerbate the ‘benefits trap’ by not making work pay, (especially for those living independently and who cannot make ends meet, (e.g. living and travel expenses). Case studies 1 and 2 (below), illustrate this latter point that policy regulations currently in place discriminate against those young people who are in need of support the most, by extending dependency and the ‘benefits trap’ experience. Table 1 National Minimum Wage Age NMW - 1999 16 and 17 year olds 18-21 year olds 3.00 22 years and over 3.60
NMW – Oct 2004 3.00# 4.10 4.85*
# Introduced in 2004 to “prevent exploitation” * A development rate of £4.10 can be paid for the first 6 months, for those who are starting work with a new employer on an accredited training programme.
Case Study 1 YMCA England calculations on living costs for contract staff: Elizabeth House is a 10 bed hostel for young homeless people who wish to develop independent living skills and move forward in terms of training, education and work. The total weekly rent is £189.42, of which residents in receipt of benefits pay £19.65pw to cover food and utility costs. 10
One of our residents, Laura* is working - her net pay is £160pw. To calculate housing benefit, the income support applicable amount (£44.25pw for a young person) and a £5 disregard are subtracted from the net pay. In Laura's case this leaves an excess income of £110.75. Laura is required to pay 65% of this - ie £71.99 - on top of her service charge of £19.65. This leaves her with just £68.36 to live on, for doing a full time job. So there is very little incentive for young people in hostels to work rather than claiming benefits. *name has been changed Source: YMCA Case Study 2 Sarah has just turned 17 and is living in a South London YMCA hostel for young people. She recently got a job working 40 hours per week in a warehouse. She is paid about £150 per week (net) for this. The full rent in her hostel is about £180 per week (of which £160 is paid by Housing Benefit for people on JSA or Income Support). Sarah’s actual rent each week, now she is working, is about £85 per week, because she gets caught in the Housing Benefit taper. She has to be at work by 9am and so she needs a £25 travelcard each week. This leaves her with £40 per week to pay for clothes, lunch, toiletries, prescriptions, and any other expenses she has. Her hours vary from week to week depending on when her boss needs her in. As a result during some weeks she gets considerably less money. However, because the Housing Benefit system is so unwieldy she still ends up paying the same amount of rent each week. On these weeks she has no money, whatsoever, left over. Sarah is scared to resign from the job in case she gets sanctioned by the Benefits Agency. As she is working full-time, it is hard for her to find time to search for a new one. But even if she does she is only going to be 33p better off for each pound she earns in extra salary. So even if she gets a job with £200 net per week, she is only going to be £17 better off. Sarah has looked into cheaper accommodation. However, private landlords want 1 month’s rent up front and 1 month’s deposit for a bedsit. This comes to over £1000. Because of her lack of income this will take forever for Sarah to save. Sarah’s keyworker tells her that she can’t move into her own Housing Association tenancy until she is 18 at the earliest. She also says there is a real shortage of these places at the moment. Sarah took this job, so she would not have to claim benefits and wanted to be independent. Now she feels absolutely trapped and can see no way out…
Source: YMCA, (2004)
UNISON Labour Link and the Labour national young members' forum are working together to gather solid evidence of age discrimination against young people in our tax and benefits system. In particular, they want to gather evidence and individual case studies to support their campaign for
• • •
Working tax credits to be extended to single childless people under 25; The end to lower rates of all state benefits to single, childless people under 25; The abolition of the use of the single room rent in housing benefit claims for single childless people under 25.
Experience of Modern Apprenticeships (MAs) is also mixed (as with the NDYP). By the end of 2003, the number of people on MAs was 238,000, an increase of 3.5% on the previous year, (LSC March 2004, Statistical First Release, ILR/SFR03). In 2002/3, the completion rate, across all levels was 27% (with an additional 13% achieving an NVQ qualification, (LSC June 2004, Statistical First Release, ILR/SFR04). Despite many positive experiences, the poor pay, quality of training (and exploitation), means that many young people on MAs fail to complete them. The YMCA believes that the noncompletion rates among 16 and 17 year olds are to a large extent due to the fact that they cannot manage on the very low wages offered. The NDYP provision begins at 18+ therefore exacerbating the exclusion experienced and barriers faced by those aged 16 and 17. The table below gives a regional picture of those aged 15 leaving school without GCSE/GNVQ qualifications. Table 2 GCSE/GNVQ Non-Achievements of 15 year old Boys & Girls, in all Maintained schools, by GOR (by end of 98/99) % of 15 year old pupils GOR Number of 15 year old leaving School without pupils leaving without achieving any any GCSE/GNVQ GCSE/GNVQ equivalent equivalent East Midlands 2,536 5.4% East of England 2,709 4.7% London 3,441 5.2% North East 2,144 7.0% North West 4,772 5.9% South East 3,900 4.8% South West 2,176 4.3% West Midlands 3,411 5.5% Yorks & Humber 4,030 7.0% Wales 1,308 3.7% Scotland Data unavailable 4% N. Ireland Data unavailable 6.2% (*96/97) Total England 32,024 6.0%
(Source: DfEE 2000 Statistics of Education, England 1999, National Assembly of Wales, Northern Ireland Statistics & Research Agency, Scottish Executive)
Young people (especially those seen to be ‘excluded’ and ‘disadvantaged’) are often solely associated with ‘deviant’ behaviour, (e.g. sex, drugs and crime). The ‘binge drinking’ scourge is an obvious example, although neither drug nor alcohol abuse are exclusive to young people, (indeed among the professional and wealthy, drug (ab)use is ‘recreational’). Statistically, there is a picture of stable drug usage, and although there are some increases there has also been some reduction in usage. Amphetamine usage has actually declined from 7.9% of 16-29 year olds (1998) to 5.2% in 2001, although the increase in cocaine use among 16-24 year olds has continued, with the proportion of those ‘having used the drug ever’ rising from 8% in 1998 to 9% in 2001. A similar increase occurred for 'Ecstasy' (11% to 12%). Cannabis use for those ‘having used the drug ever’ aged 16-24 has remained stable at 44% in 1998 and 2001 and has remained stable at 27% in 1998 and 2001 for cannabis in terms of ‘have used in last 12 months’. In 2001, 33% of males aged 16-24 had used cannabis in the last 12 months compared to 21% of females. In 1998, 32% of males aged 16-24 had used cannabis in the last 12 months compared to 22% of females in the same age group (Drugscope, 2002). In relation to crime, only 7% of young people in school have committed crimes requiring police involvement, (Young People Now www.ypnmagazine.com). Politically and in the media, there is an emphasis now to get tough on crime, young criminals and ‘anti-social behaviour’. The media presents young people at best as problems and at worst as criminals. 71% of stories about young people are negative and one in three focuses on crime, (Annex 2 - Young People and the Media: The Facts), (Young People Now, www.ypnmagazine.com). The media strongly influence and perpetuate the disproportional negative stereotypes about young people, and positive media coverage remains the exception rather than the rule, (Annex 3 - Media Good Practice Case Studies). Of more concern is that the UK has the highest teenage pregnancy rate in the EU, and hence the highest number of teenage mothers. In 2002 there were 39,286 recorded teenage pregnancies, twice as high as Germany, three times higher than France and six times higher than Holland.
OVERVIEW OF ISSUES
This section briefly profiles and makes a wide ranging analysis of the labour market and the main policies and programmes and most importantly, explores the implications visà-vis young people.
2.1 Young People and the Labour Market: Statistical Overview The UK is enjoying a still buoyant economy with low unemployment especially when compared to other EU countries. Locally, London’s (ILO) unemployment rate in early 2002 stood at 6.9%, higher than the national rate of 3.3% at the same period, (National Statistics).
Across all ethnic groups, young people (aged 16 to 24) had higher unemployment rates than the working age population. Generally, there is higher unemployment among individuals from ethnic minorities than among the white population and this is reflected in the 16-24 age range, where unemployment ranged from 37% among young Bangladeshi people to 11% of young white people. In London, the economic activity rate varies greatly among different ethnic groups. Regardless of age, in Spring 2002, 80% of the white population were employed compared to 54% of the Pakistani and 47% of the Bangladeshi population, (although these low figures are in part due to low female employment within these communities), (http://www.national-statistics.gov.uk/STATBASE/ssdataset.asp?vlnk=6282) Even though the proportion of employed young people nearly halved between the beginning of the 1980s and the mid 1990s, those aged 16-24 are still more likely to be unemployed than any other age group. In terms of employment, at the 1997 general election, long-term youth unemployment was just below 250,000 – twice the number of any other age group. Today, less than 15% of 16 year old school leavers find full-time employment. Overall national and regional changes in under-25 unemployment are illustrated on the table below, (Table 4). Gender and age variations are also shown, (Table 5) Table 4 National and Regional changes in unemployment (1997-2002) Claimant Count — Youth unemployment (aged under 25) May-97 414,566 399,778 25,854 31,399 26,518 26,462 41,805 43,841 56,468 22,895 59,775 26,132 38,629 14,788 Sep-02 257,527 245,623 12,357 16,463 14,162 16,044 25,816 27,502 35,602 14,456 38,678 17,714 26,829 11,904 change -157,039 -154,155 -13,497 -14,936 -12,356 -10,418 -15,989 % change -37.9 -38.6 -52.2 -47.6 -46.6 -39.4 -38.2
United Kingdom Great Britain South West South East Eastern East Midlands Yorkshire and the Humber Scotland North West Wales London North East West Midlands Northern Ireland
-16,339 -37.3 -20,866 -37.0 -8,439 -36.9 -21,097 -35.3 -8,418 -32.2 -11,800 -30.5 -2,884 -19.5 (source: NOMIS)
Table 5 Economic activity by age and gender - 2001 %in %unemployed %inactive %retired work at present
% all economically active selfemployed 3.3 10.6 15.6 19.4 25.2 14.0
MALES 16-24 25-34 35-44 45-59 60-64 Aged 1664 FEMALES 16-24 25-34 35-44 45-59 Aged 1664 PERSONS 16-24 25-34 35-44 45-59 60-64 Aged 1659/64
62.8 87.9 88.4 80.8 48.9 78.8
12.0 5.1 3.7 3.2 2.5 5.2
20.7 2.2 1.8 3.8 20.9 7.1
4.5 4.8 6.1 12.3 27.8 8.9
74.8 93.0 92.1 84.0 51.4 84.0
16.1 5.5 4.0 3.8 4.9 6.2
58.9 71.1 74.1 68.3 68.8
7.8 3.4 2.9 1.9 3.6
29.0 20.4 16.1 13.4 18.6
4.3 5.1 6.9 16.4 9.1
66.7 74.5 77.0 70.2 72.4
11.8 4.5 3.7 2.7 4.9
1.0 4.8 7.6 7.8 5.9
60.9 79.7 81.3 74.5 48.9 74.0
10.0 4.3 3.3 2.5 2.5 4.4
24.8 11.1 8.9 8.6 20.9 12.6
4.4 4.9 6.5 14.3 27.8 9.0
70.8 84.0 84.6 77.0 51.4 78.5
14.1 5.1 3.9 3.3 4.9 5.6
2.3 8.1 12.0 14.1 25.2 10.4
Notes: Percentages based on a cell count of under 6,000 are suppressed Totals refer to all males or females living in the UK. Source: Labour Force Survey, mean of Mar-May to Dec-Feb
An explanation for the fall in the unemployment rate of this age group is due to two main factors. Firstly, more young people are remaining in education, a trend which is continuing and which is fuelled by the government policy which aims to encourage 50% youth participation in FE and HE. Table 6 illustrates school leavers’ destination.
Table 6 Destination of School Leavers by Region Region FT Government Education Supported Training East Midlands East of England London North East North West South East South West West Midlands Yorks & Humber England 76% 82% 88% 73% 75% 84% 81% 77% 75% 79% 6% 4% 3% 15% 8% 3% 6% 9% 10% 7%
18% 14% 8% 12% 17% 13% 14% 15% 16% 14%
Source: DfEE 2000 Labour Market and Skills Trendsi
Secondly, the fall in the birth rate during the mid-1960s until the mid-1970s can also be credited with the decline in youth unemployment. Recent research (Barwell, 2000, p.5) highlights this point. Barwell states, “Given that youths always have higher unemployment rates than adults, this shift in the composition of the labour force towards those with lower unemployment rates may have been responsible for a fall in the aggregate unemployment rate”. This argument that the drop in birth rates to a large extent is responsible for the low unemployment rate is supported by other research which predicts a 2.2 million rise in jobs by 2010 but concurrently 2 million fewer young people to fill these opportunities, (National Skills Task Force Reports, 2000). In relation to London, a GMB report (November 2002) recorded a steady drop in youth unemployment since 1997. This claim is supported by official statistics in Table 7. Table 7 Source: NOMIS London Claimant Count - Youth unemployment (aged under 25) May-97 Sep-02 change % change Bexley 1,301 654 -647 -49.7 Kingston-upon-Thames 515 262 -253 -49.1 Hackney 3,531 1,805 -1,726 -48.9 Havering 1,085 579 -506 -46.6 Hounslow 1,404 757 -647 -46.1 Sutton 658 366 -292 -44.4 Islington 2,352 1,345 -1,007 -42.8 Bromley 1,253 745 -508 -40.5 Wandsworth 2,017 1,212 -805 -39.9 Barking and Dagenham 1,371 824 -547 -39.9 Kensington and Chelsea 866 526 -340 -39.3 Merton 1,052 648 -404 -38.4 Hammersmith and 1,456 906 -550 -37.8 16
Fulham Richmond-upon-Thames 442 276 -166 -37.6 Waltham Forest 2,375 1,484 -891 -37.5 Haringey 2,951 1,854 -1,097 -37.2 Lambeth 3,466 2,187 -1,279 -36.9 Greenwich 2,658 1,681 -977 -36.8 Redbridge 1,668 1,067 -601 -36.0 Enfield 2,081 1,338 -743 -35.7 Brent 2,693 1,733 -960 -35.6 Newham 3,401 2,197 -1,204 -35.4 Camden 1,777 1,206 -571 -32.1 Croydon 2,239 1,587 -652 -29.1 Westminster, City of 1,181 860 -321 -27.2 Lewisham 2,861 2,094 -767 -26.8 Southwark 3,002 2,203 -799 -26.6 Ealing 1,893 1,413 -480 -25.4 Tower Hamlets 2,744 2,091 -653 -23.8 Hillingdon 1,053 808 -245 -23.3 Barnet 1,545 1,216 -329 -21.3 Harrow 869 732 -137 -15.8 City of London 15 22 +7 +46.7 This compares with the UK national average of a fall of -37.9% and a London average of a fall of -35.3%.
2.2 Young People in the Changing Labour Market Due to changing economic needs, there has been a considerable change in the nature of the labour market. The downsizings, reorganisations and outsourcings of the early 1990s, set off a major shift in the employment landscape. Table 8, below, illustrates the changes that have taken place, Table 8 The Changing Labour Market OLD NEW Stability Change Predictability Uncertainty Standard work patterns Flexible work Valuing loyalty Valuing performance and skills Paternalism Self-reliance Job security Employment security Linear career growth Multiple careers One-time learning Lifelong learning ‘Brand New Loyalties’, Employee Benefits, March 2002
There is now a shift from the old psychological contract of the expectations of a job for life, with huge, although often hidden, repercussions for both workers and employing organisations. Understanding the motivation and situation of young workers needs to be explained and understood in this changing environment which hinges on two main processes, that of globalisation and individualisation, (Beck, 1999, 2000). Despite employers and the labour market in general changing tack from the paternalistic employment relationship of the past, they seem ill prepared for the attitudinal shifts that their own actions have prompted. One result in this shift is that half of all graduate recruits leave their jobs within two years, (Work Foundation, 2003). What the labour market and employers have failed to realise is that young people are increasingly becoming selective about who they work for and how they work. Employers’ expectations may be high, but so are the expectations of the young people they are trying to attract. Although a generalisation, one characteristic of young people today is that they are extremely resilient, adaptable to, and unafraid of change, as Fergusson writes, [F]or these young people, living with uncertainty is embraced much more than it is feared, (2002, p.184). There is now a smaller but more highly qualified recruitment pool of young workers, with more emphasis on skills and 'employability for life', an individualised workplace and higher expectations. All too often, the parties are unclear about the organisation's strategy for recruiting and developing young workers, resulting in wasted effort, frustrated managers and disillusioned recruits. Young people equally put a lot of importance of employer investment in their career development and rising through the ranks and gaining responsibility quickly. One of the main reasons young people leave is if the role does not fulfil expectations and has been ‘oversold’, (Work Foundation, 2003). Some young people are disadvantaged at the first stages of the recruitment process itself. Application forms (and many job specifications) focus on chronology and career time-lines rather than on competency and ability, resulting in an age bias. Such practices tend to discriminate against those who have broken career paths, (e.g. having children, travel and ill-health). The Employers Forum on Age has produced an age blind (or age-proof) example of an application form, urging employers to remove age and date of birth from application forms and to look more at the individual capabilities and skills, (2004, available online, www.efa.org.uk). While the new, sanitised language of ‘outsourcing’, ‘downsizing’ and flexibility make the reality - redundancy and job security – an easier pill to swallow, many young people have risen to the challenge of the impersonal labour market and are equally as fickle and self-serving. Loyalty to an employer can last only as long as these young employees are achieving their own personal goals, [F]orty per cent of graduates said that the main reason to stay in a job was career prospects and 36% said they would be ‘very much’ prepared to change jobs and earn less money in order to get better career prospects, (Work Foundation, 2003). Young people have developed a much more instrumental approach to employment and have very high expectations of work. They put substantial importance on the ‘brand’ of a company as they are always keen on improving their CV. With more young people investing in HE, their expectations are high. Job security is still important, although
young people have adapted with the times and recognise that it is ‘employability’ that will guarantee long-term career success. This importance placed on permanently improving their CV has been labelled as ‘gold-dusting’, (Work Foundation, 2003). As the report points out, there is an impasse here, the price employers must pay in attracting and keeping young employees is to train them and give them responsibility. By doing so, the young person’s employability currency is increased and they become attractive to other employers. Even though there may be a risk in ‘skilling’ and equipping young people, research shows that workers (of all ages) are more likely to stay with an employer if they are invested in and respected, where an individual feels they ‘belong’ to an organisation and are valued workers – appears to be the key in retaining workers of all ages, and, the evidence suggests that investment in development has more of an impact on young worker retention than a 10% pay rise. Management and the competency of managers are also highlighted by the research. Staff development, mentoring and coaching are crucial and have as much to do with empathy and mutual respect between generations, as have organisational policies. Generational conflicts are ever present and are inevitably cyclical. Older generations will always believe that younger generations have a much easier ride, (Sean Coughlan, When an angry staff puts the age into rage, July 31, 2004, The Guardian). Current research in the US and in England shows that there are genuine and tangible reasons for the current ‘conflict’ between the generations in the workplace, seen as a ‘communication gap’, where, [M]anagers would talk about the fact that young people were not concerned about job security; yet the majority were. Development plans, apparently mutually agreed, did not seem to fulfil many of the young workers’ goals, (Great Expectations: Understanding the Motivation of Young Workers, p.20). Respect and recognition of good performance is also important,…young workers wanted more individual acknowledgment for good work. Graduates wanted recognition of their role through greater responsibility at an earlier stage. The report highlights other ‘gaps’, (i) Lifestyle: young people are more likely to relish a 24/7 working week and are more conspicuous for how they have accepted the long hours culture. For younger workers, the workplace represents an important social and networking environment. Experience: young people lack the work and life experience of older workers and as such are sometimes viewed as lacking the right attitude, motivation and discipline (or, the ‘work ethic’). The research shows that the ‘experience’ gap varies according to the size, nature and management/ working practices of the company. Where older and younger workers collaborated on joint work, gaps were less pronounced. Having been brought up with technology, younger workers do have the upper hand in IT, and they often teach older colleagues about how to use technology. Also, young people are seen as being more ‘in touch’ with consumers and markets and in general they create, a more happening workplace with a very social and networking culture, (p.19) Status: this gap is about seniority and status within a company, where ‘fasttracking’ young people into positions of seniority can result in resentment from older workers, who may view this as special treatment and undeserved. This may cause difficult working environments especially if younger workers manage older colleagues or if older managers feel threatened. Generation: this gap underpins all others and is focussed on the difference in approach, which the different generations take. In short, and predictably so, young workers are seen as inexperienced and impatient, while older workers 19
are seen as stubborn and unwilling to change. Expectations vary, mostly due to adapting to the changing nature of the labour market rather than being disloyal, unmotivated or fickle, [DesignCo] used to be about a career, but for most young workers now, it is about a job, (p.22). Young people are much more ‘transactional’ and ‘pre-meditated’ about work and this is often viewed as being ‘pushy’, but their approach to work is simply a response to the shift in career ownership from paternalism to autonomy.
2.3 Skills Shortages and Gaps Since the 1970’s the structure of the labour market has changed dramatically. There has been a decrease in activity in the primary and secondary (agricultural and industrial) sectors (e.g. coal mining), and also in parts of the manufacturing industries. This period has seen technology (computers and machines) replace human labour and has led to a decrease in secondary jobs. The tertiary sector has seen an increase in jobs with the broadening of those providing services to (new) business and consumers in tourism, leisure, the media, health and education. The acute shortages in the latter two sectors have resulted in the employment of foreign teachers and health workers, (Pumphrey, J. 2002, Skills Dialogue: Listening to Employers No13, DfES), while quaternary jobs (research and development, such as IT), as in the tertiary sector, are available with some specialised shortages also. There are still well documented and long-standing skill shortages especially in the technical and manufacturing professions. According to ONS figures, employment in the manufacturing sector has fallen by 16% in the past five years. Concurrently, there has been a decline in jobs, from 4.2 million in 1998 to 3.5 million. Hard to fill Public service work continues to be deeply unappealing to young people. The negative and shabby term "public sector" has to be broken down and reinvented both in terms of image but also in terms of offering ‘fair pay’. Not only is the private sector seen as paying better, but it is viewed as more thrilling, ‘sexy’, and is always going to be faster and more exciting, (David Brindle, The Ys and the wherefores, Wednesday June 4, 2003, The Guardian). A survey of over 860 students by recruitment group Bernard Hodes, revealed that only 28% expressed a wish to work in the non-private sector. ‘Money’, ‘competitive’ and ‘challenging’; were words students most associated with the private sector, while those for the non-private sector were ‘rewarding’, ‘low pay’ and ‘security’, (cited in, David Brindle, 2003), The public services are simply failing to attract young people. Generic skills are those skills which can be used across large numbers of different occupations. They include what are defined as key skills – communication, problem solving, team working, IT skills, application of number and an ability to improve personal learning and performance. They also include reasoning skills, visualising output, working backwards for forward planning purposes and sequencing operation, National Skills Task Force, (2000). These skills are Communication, Improving own learning and development, IT, Management, Numeracy, Organisation of work, Problem Solving and Team working, (A Comprehensive Summary of Generic Skills Requirements, DfES, 2002). The criticism often levelled at young people that they lack effective and developed communication and interpersonal skills may be explained – in part, at least - by the fact that this cultural generation of young people do not need such traditional skills to 20
interact and communicate. One unique characteristic they share is that they are the IT generation. Technological advances in ICT herald huge positives but simultaneously huge negatives. The Internet has revolutionised and made communication and access to information instant. The mobile phone means that we can be always available. Boundaries between work and leisure are blurred. Young people have grown up with computers at school and in the home, they are using all the latest technology to empower themselves. It's part of their life. Their bedroom is like a virtual world. They have a social life out of their bedroom, they do not know a world without technology, (Justin Hunt, How kids can cash in Thursday, February 17, 2000, The Guardian). The ownership of mobile phones is now the norm but was rare only fifteen or so years ago. They offer safety and peace of mind but to the vast extent they also remove the element of personal interaction and conversation and are redefining the lines between work, and family. Both the internet and mobile have huge advantages for those who work from home, are carers or are house bound due to an illness or disability, allowing anyone to communicate shop and pay bills. But adversely it removes any need for interaction. In short, whether the positives outweigh the negatives or not, a consequence is that we are increasingly becoming a more impersonal society, less reliant on direct physical verbal communication and interaction with others. Seen from this point of view, they are unwitting victims and a product of ‘progress’. Employers continue to report difficulty in recruiting job-ready Graduates, citing skills shortages in three out of five graduate attributes ranked as being the most important, namely, interpersonal skills, initiative/ proactivity, and oral communication, (The Association of Graduate Recruiters, Graduate Salaries and Vacancies Survey, 2002). The government policy of encouraging 50% of young people into HE has been heavily criticized by educationalists and employers alike. The number of graduates has increased dramatically over the last decade by 23%, to an estimated 260,000 in 2004 far outnumbering the estimated 80,000 graduate-level job vacancies available in the same year, (for a definition of graduate levels jobs, see Purcell and Elias, Seven Years On, 2004, HECSU). The labour market is struggling to absorb the number of graduates and the consequence of getting more young people into HE has subsequently resulted in an unsurprisingly de-valuing of degrees and traditional academic qualifications.
2.4 The New Deal for Young People Some of the drop in youth unemployment has also been attributed to the introduction by the Labour Government of the New Deal for Young People (NDYP) Programme, (see Anderton, Riley and Young, The New Deal for Young People: Early Findings from the Pathfinders Areas, 1999, DWP and Anderton, Riley and Young, The New Deal for Young People: Implications for the Macroeconomy, 1999, National Institute for
Economic and Social Research, while for a more critical review, see Bogdanor, Not Working: Why Workfare Should Replace the New Deal, 2004, Policy Exchange). Introduced in 1998, it aimed to tackle youth unemployment which had rocketed during the 1990s. The plethora of New Deal programmes introduced by the Labour Government are aimed at tackling ‘social exclusion’ through labour market insertion and are strongly aligned to (indeed they are taken from) US workforce policies. ‘Exclusion is the greatest risk accompanying the opportunities of the new economic era. Significant people lose their hold first on the labour market, then on the social and political participation in their community’, (Dahrendorf et al. 1995) The original European concept of Social Exclusion lies in a robust commitment and belief in social rights, citizenship, solidarity, mutuality and the collectivisation of risk, where social bonds, relationships are crucial to a cohesive and equitable society, (Silver, 1994). The New Deal programmes, particularly NDYP, diluted this concept and saw employment as the only way to combat social exclusion. As a Government Minister stated, work is central to the government’s attack on social exclusion…it is a way of life…we are reforming the welfare state around the work ethic, (Harman, quoted in Lister, 1988, p.219-220). The NDYP is aimed at those aged 18-24, who have been claiming Job Seeker’s Allowance (JSA) for at least six months. ‘Clients’ are advised and counselled by personal advisors and are given one of five options; subsidized placement with an employer (where employers receive approximately £2300 per ‘client’); the Environmental Task Force; a voluntary based community project; self employment or education or training (ET). Generally, options run for half a year except ET, which is normally for a year. New Deal also places the burden of responsibility firmly onto the shoulders of the individual and, [I]t shifts welfare from an automatic entitlement of citizenship to a conditional feature of state provision, contingent on engagement in any reasonable form of paid employment which can be offered. All potential and actual welfare claimants are held to be responsible for their own and their families’ well-being if they are able bodied and if opportunities to be self-sufficient are forthcoming, (Fergusson, 2002, p.178). Although the drop in youth unemployment is due in part to NDYP, the figures available are misleading. By June 2001, not even a third of the 640,000 young people who had begun NDYP (since 1998) had secured unsubsidised employment; while 43% did not complete their 13 week job placements – the period seen as achieving ‘sustained employment’. The fate of 25% of ‘starters’ were unknown, (Unemployment Unit/ Youthaid, 2001a). Fergusson states that the disappointing effectiveness of NDYP is due in part to its strict conditions, using a number of instruments, from continuing active one-to-one advice to progressive withdrawal of benefits for persistent refusal, to secure participation in prescribed programmes. Such strict conditions to require participation for young people were unprecedented in the UK. It is difficult to avoid the conclusion that high throughput, high turnover and low retention rates are the direct result of the mandatory nature of NDYP, (pp.178, 180) Importantly and disappointingly, NDYP provides provision at 18 and ignores those aged 16 to 18. There is no statutory provision therefore for those aged 16-18, who are ‘supposed’ to either go onto FE, traineeships and be supported by their parent/s. It is this age group, especially those with few, low or without qualifications, who are most at risk of exclusion, (especially if they are also living independently), ..16 is a critical point when for some, problems that have been brewing for years reach a crisis, and for other, 22
problems begin that could have been avoided. Both groups – and society more generally – bear the costs for years to come, (p.8, Social Exclusion Unit (SEU) 1999). The changing nature of the labour market together with the emphasis on HE and the mandatory compliance nature of labour market policies has meant that, [P]reviously young people could start at the bottom and work up a career ladder, but ‘stepping stone jobs’ no longer exist. There are now few work alternatives to educational success. This has particularly affected those without qualifications and from low-income households: they are more likely to experience early unemployment, which affects both later employment and earning power, (Connor, Dewson, Tyers, Eccles, Regan and Aston, 2001, RR267, DfES). By assuming that 18 years of age is ‘year dot’, NDYP is failing its own remit by excluding those young people most at risk.
2.5 Connexions A direct result or product from the Social Exclusion Unit’s report (1999) was the national initiative ‘Connexions’. Aimed at young people aged 13-19 or for those young people with learning difficulties/disabilities, support can continue beyond 19. Connexions guides and supports teenagers in their transition to adulthood and working life. The service is delivered mainly through a network of personal advisers drawn from a range of existing public, private, voluntary and community sector organisations. The service is a ‘one-stop-shop’ providing broad advice on all issues, from education, training, employment, health and leisure as well as targeted one-to-one advice. (Annex 4 gives an overview of other Government Policy Initiatives and Annex 5 lists other organisations working with young people). According to the National Association of Connexions Partnerships (NACP), Connexions partnerships have helped cut the number of young people not in education, work or training (NEET) by an average of 14% over two years. Although overall exceeding government targets, six of the 47 partnerships fell short of this figure. Nationally, Connexions Cheshire and Warrington was one of the best performing partnerships, with a 32% reduction in disengaged young people. The partnership attributed their success to a combination of outreach work early intervention approaches (e.g. some partnerships have been working with 16year-olds since they were 13) supported work placements A current review of Connexions which will form the basis of the (delayed) Green Paper on Youth, suggests that despite its success, the government believes that the current education and careers guidance system in England is unsustainable. The Green Paper will contain three separate strands; one concerned with 'places to go and things to do', the second with issues of ‘vulnerability’ and the third with ‘support’, including advice and
guidance. Early findings of the review state that Connexions lacks the capacity to deliver both targeted support and broader universal careers education and guidance to young people, (Young People Now, www.ypnmagazine.com). The review favours careers education and guidance to be delivered through schools, colleges and workbased learning. In part this attempt to better define services is in response to the more complex curriculum proposed by the Tomlinson review of 14 to 19 education, (14-19 Reform). This would have funding implications for Connexions, as it would result in a transferral of some funds for targeted provision to local authorities and subsequently may affect the nature of their wide-ranging holistic work it currently undertakes.
2.6 14-19 Pathfinders The government’s 14-19 pathfinder initiatives encourage partnership and collaboration between schools, colleges, employers, training providers and universities. Importantly, these partnerships are aimed at responding to local needs and conditions, building on the characteristics and profile of localities. The 39 pathfinders are designed to assess local delivery of 14-19 education and training in a range of local settings, and will inform the development of national 14-19 education and training set to be mainstreamed in 2005/ 2006. Current pathfinders are therefore a ‘test’ and will highlight the costs of new policy and practice in this area. In January 2003, the first twenty five pathfinders (‘phase one’) have became operational. They are aimed at introducing more choice so that programmes can better suit and reflect individual skills and needs. Phase 2 (2004/ 2005) was a period of consolidation and also innovation, with many pathways providing additional support and services. (Annex 6 illustrates 14-19 Pathfinders Good Practice examples).
2.7 14-19 Reform Current developments in educational policy are responding to the call for more vocationally centred qualifications and are focusing on strengthening vocational routes for those aged 14-19 years of age. The proposals aim to raise the quality of the overall vocational package and provide opportunities for achievement and progression in the same ways as academic studies. This does not mean trying to fit vocational programmes into an ‘academic’ mould, but recognising what is distinctive and valuable about vocational learning and ensuring that it is respected and valued in its own right, (14-19 Curriculum and Qualifications Reform: Final report of the Working Group on 1419 Reform, 2004, p.6). The changes propose the introduction of a unified framework of diplomas, which provide clear pathways through the 14-19 phase into FE, HE, training and employment. The diploma aims to reflect sectoral skills needs and will combine academic and practical project-based units and modules. Engaging employers is highlighted as key to the success of any new initiative. Their involvement is crucial, whether it be informing the development of the curriculum, delivering diploma components, acting as mentors or providing effective work experience placements. Engaging employers in investing their time and money in young people will be a challenge as will be selling the new diploma to them.
The role of employers deserves a particular mention. The young people, youth workers and NDYP advisors interviewed in this research agreed that employers do not do enough, especially in terms of investing their time, experience and money in preparing their future employees. The issue for employers though is that they view ‘education’ as the role of the state and the education sector. Favoured solutions given are that employers should be more involved in schools by giving talks and presentations on their particular field or business. This could be achieved by giving Professional Bodies the responsibility at local level of encouraging their members to become more involved with their local schools and FE institutions. This should be a condition of their membership and part of their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) strategy. Also, it is up to employers, to make their sectors more attractive to young people. As much responsibility though there is on the shoulders of young people to be ‘employable’, employers must inform young people about employment opportunities and ‘sell’ their sectors, (Annex 7 Construction Industry Council, ‘Construction is not all about ‘mud and boots’ press release, November 2002, promoting a recruitment video targeted at 14-18 year olds, Building Visions – creative careers in the construction professions) If employers do not get more involved and become ‘partners’ in vocational programmes, then those who have already been taught in oversized classrooms, and have been encouraged to go to University will continue to find themselves with skills and qualifications which are surplus to requirements. The 14-19 Vocational proposals will take at least ten years to implement, giving the Government enough time to encourage employers to become much more involved in its development, practice and assessment.
2.8 Higher Education Aimhigher, is a government initiative aimed at improving the progression of underrepresented young people into HE. It is implemented via local partnerships of schools, colleges and universities in order to promote participation through supportive measures such as mentoring, summer schools and university visits. Aimhigher is one measure assisting the government in achieving its 50% HE participation target of young people aged 18-30 by 2010. In terms of widening access and participation to disadvantaged young people (defined by where they live), participation has indeed increased, but primarily for those from wealthier backgrounds, the most advantaged 20 per cent of young people are up to six times more likely to enter higher education than the most disadvantaged 20 per cent, (p.97 HEFCE, Youth participation in higher education, 2005). This recent report supports previous research which looked at social class and HE participation, [F]ewer than one in five young people from the lower social class group (IIIm, IV and V) participate in HE, although this proportion has been increasing, it remains well below the 45 per cent who participate from the higher social class groups (IIIn, II and I), a figure which has also been increasingly rapidly over the years. Lower social class groups represent 28 per cent of the total entrants to full-time undergraduate study, a lower share than their 39 per cent in the population as a whole, (p.5, Connor, Dewson, Tyers, Eccles, Regan and Aston, , 2001, RR267, DfES). Those from more deprived backgrounds who do enter into HE are more likely to attend the ‘new’ Universities, and sadly are more likely to drop out, due to the pressure of study, cost or not liking/ wanting to change courses. 25
Although the HE target is admirable in that it aims to promote wider equality and widen participation and access to ‘all’, there does exist a genuine tension between the policy’s honourable aspirations and the ‘real’ world. The ‘50% into HE’ policy has also received heavy criticism from those concerned with the ‘skills time bomb’. A survey of employers undertaken by the Association of Graduate Recruiters in 2003 illustrated that six out of ten firms believed government policy of expanding HE was having an adverse impact on graduate quality and that there were too many graduates, (The Guardian, ‘Too many graduates’, bosses say, 20 January 2004). Research also shows that on average only a third of graduates are entering graduate level jobs, (The Guardian, Graduate gloom about job chances, 21 April 2004) and recent PricewaterhouseCoopers research states, students considering going to university should take note of the current oversupply of graduates in the employment marketplace and also consider direct entry to the workplace from school, (The Graduates of 2004 – A Disillusioned Generation?, 2005). At the 2001 National City and Guilds Conference attended by training organisations, employers, trade unions, LSCs, HE and FE, 62% of delegates felt the government policy of getting 50% of young people into HE as bad for business and the economy. Also, 54% of delegates felt that ‘employers’ need to contribute the most in bridging the skills gap, (‘Government’ came second with 23% and ‘LSCs’ third with 11%). In relation to possible solutions and tools, in education 46% of delegates felt that ‘changes to the national curriculum’ would contribute most to a solution if one of the root causes of supply side problems lies in secondary schools. In employment, ‘tax credits’ was seen to be the most effective and politically acceptable way to stimulate skills training in employment by 5% of delegates and a ‘training levy’ by 35%. It is not surprising that those in disagreement with Government policy favour more vocationally or work based initiatives and programmes, [B]right sixth-formers being encouraged or advised to pursue a vocational rather than an ‘academic’ (however anaemic) post-school route is, I suspect, as rare as hen’s teeth. And it is this snobby and elitist discrimination against vocational educational and the obsession with pushing ever more young people into higher education that is partly behind Britain’s ‘skills gap’, (Ruth Lea, ‘Bother your ‘ologies and ‘ometries, The Skills Debate, Article 6, The Spectator). Modern Apprenticeships offer a more vocational pathway, an alternative ‘middle way’ and can be completed in 12-17 months. As highlighted earlier in this report, the £40 training allowance is inadequate and is a huge obstacle for many independent young people resulting in non-completion. The Cassels Report argues that other common problems with apprenticeships include weak initial assessment and induction, key skills delivery, and poor liaison with employers (Modern Apprenticeship Advisory Committee, 2001). Despite Government claims that graduates will on average earn £400,000 more in their lifetime than non-graduates, the financial rewards are misleading, and investing in HE can be too high a risk for many young people, (DfES 2002). Any forecast requires as accurate a prediction as possible of graduate earnings over the next 30 to 40 years, which is an impossible task as salaries vary according to degree subject and class, institution attended, age, gender, ethnic background, school attended and social class, (Higher Education Policy Institute, citing Why average rates of return will fail to persuade, THES, 10 January 2003). The claim also fails to calculate the income tax and other contributions graduates contribute during their lifetime. 26
Even if such financial gains will occur, many graduates face having to pay off huge student loans estimated to be anywhere from £9,000-£15,000, (www.bbc.co.uk, DfES, etc). With such debts many graduates feel ‘cheated’ and let down despite having ‘done the right thing’. A degree does not guarantee a well paid (graduate) job and this reality together with financial burdens effects other areas of life such as buying a home and starting a family, What was it all about? The years spent studying with no income save student loans, doing without, scrimping. Then, when you do get a job, half your money goes into paying off debts, the other half in rent - because of the outright greed that is driving up house prices. This false wealth is making life hell for those looking to get on in this miserable little country that we've created. Great Britain? What's so Great about it?
(Quarter-Life Crisis, ‘Have Your Say’ page, www.bbc.co.uk)
Research undertaken by The Work Foundation, (2003), supports the view that the expectations young people have, are at least in part due to cultural shifts in society [A] more ‘consumerist’ and transactional approach towards higher education, jobs and careers may be a product of our more individualised times. Compared to 30 years ago, young workers have wider choice and access to other opportunities, such as continuing education, travel or other work opportunities. Even cultural phenomena, such as the dotcom boom and youthful, high-earning celebrities who are millionaires before they are 30, all put work under pressure to be exciting, sexy and sociable, (p.8).
2.9 The ‘Burden of Opportunity’ One of the negative aspects of increased affluence in society is that there is greater freedom and choice (whether perceived or actual). Young people are seen as ‘lucky’ and ‘spoilt’ and having so much going for them. But, greater choice brings increased stress and pressure which can lead to unachieved high expectations and disillusionment. Paradoxically, the current era of endless possibilities coincides with an increase in the rate and occurrence of family breakdown and depression, anxiety, stress and suicides among young people. Research shows that 50% of 15-19 year olds would like to reduce the stress in their lives while 28% of 15-23 year olds say they would take a lower paid job if it meant less stress, (The Henley Centre, 2001). Traditionally, sociologists have proposed two mechanisms or social forces, which affect the suicide rate; these are social integration and social/moral regulation. This is illustrated, for example, by the transformation of our social institutions and infrastructure including the church and religion, community, family and the economy and their relevance. It may be the case that the expectations to achieve are incongruous with the means to achieve them in contemporary society. An 'age of individualism' stops young
people reaching out for help. It is helpful to try and understand individual behaviour as a social problem, to be understood in the social as well as individual context. More so, these two mechanisms also explain and measure disillusion, depression and disengagement. In Suicide, Durkheim purported that economic well-being (or collapse) can disguise a sense of disorder and unhappiness, the more one has, the more one wants, since satisfactions received only stimulate instead of filling needs (2002). In The Division of Labour in Society, (1884), Durkheim proposed two concepts. First, that societies evolved from a simple, non-specialised form, called mechanical, toward a highly complex, specialised form, called organic. In the former society, people behave and think alike and more or less perform the same work tasks and have the same group-oriented goals. When societies become more complex, or organic, work also becomes more complex. In this society, people are no longer tied to one another and social bonds are more impersonal. Individuals cannot find their place in society without clear rules to help guide them, I do feel that the 20 somethings have a disadvantage in that they are the victims of and education system that had "no rules" - be yourself was the motto and this has left them less capable of fitting in easily with the norms of society and work.
Anomie refers to a breakdown of social norms and describes a condition where norms no longer control the activities of members in society because there is a lack of a dominant moral framework leading to a weakening of the regulation of individual behaviour. Changing conditions as well as adjustment of life leads to dissatisfaction, conflict, and deviance. Thus, any rapid movement in the social structure that upsets previous networks in which life styles are embedded carries with it a chance of anomie. Young people today are particularly at risk of disengagement. While anomie can affect all sections of society not just young people, the quarter life crisis is a recent term specifically coined for the disengagement felt by many twenty and thirty something professionals. Robbins and Wilmer (2001) were the first to fully acknowledged, document and ‘name’ the condition in their book, Quarterlife Crisis: How to Get Your Head Round Life in Your Twenties. Other books have since followed (Jowell, 2003, Robbins, 2004 and Barr 2004). The characteristics of the phenomenon are uncertainty, self-doubt, setting high or unrealistic expectations, a fear of failure or a feeling of having failed, disappointment, a sense of hopelessness, resentment and last but not least, a feeling of being deceived. ”…You know, in less than 5 months, I'll be 20. This is scary. Isn't one supposed to have things worked out by 20? Isn't one supposed to be on one's way? Really, I have it less together now than I did when I was 14, and I ask myself what the hell I've been doing for the last five years. Quarter-life crisis, you say. But this isn't any good. People get married at my age. Shouldn't I be okay with things by now? Shouldn't I be able to do things in the outside world without having to reassure myself that I'll be back out of it soon? Of course, as they stand things aren't really all that bad. But this isn't where I want to be when I'm 25, or 30, or 40. And I'm just wondering if I'm too far gone now, and maybe this is just what I'm going to be, and that's what's scary, because it's something I never intended. I think that Sarah of 14 would be disappointed to see Sarah of right now…”
The quote was posted on an individual’s personal web site under the heading, "Quarter-Life Crisis”. It is used here with permission (although the individual’s name has been changed)
It is a phenomenon which attempts to explain the ‘crisis’ faced by many young people from their late teens and into their thirties in relation to ‘achievers’ and young professionals and those in, leaving or who have recently left HE. The Director of Warwick’s Careers Advisory service has commented, “I am confident that many students are experiencing the quarter-life crisis while they are here at Warwick, and I also believe that many more find it once they leave and start on the next phase of their lives”, (Warwick Boar - CORE - Week 8, Autumn, 2002 - Volume 25, Issue 7). Much of the disappointment and feelings of being deceived is one of not realising one’s own or society’s raised expectations. Graduates feel they deserve to find a well paid job in the field of their choice/study. They have ‘done the right thing’ by continuing their education and want their just rewards, As one of the many suckered into completing a media degree I have found it impossible to get work in the area I have studied in. What is the point of running so many courses throughout the country covering the same subject when there are nowhere near enough jobs to go around? You can't get the work without the experience and you can't get the experience without the work. No matter how well you do, in some fields it's not what you know but who.
Although to the cynic, it appears that these young people are suffering from nothing more than a large dose of options, making a choice can indeed be a struggle, As a University Careers Advisor stated, There are all sorts of new jobs, new job titles, new fields opening up. It's a bewildering array of choice. In the long term that is good but sometimes too much choice can be a bad thing, (www.bbc.co.uk) The quarter life crisis and anomie reflect the labour market and society as a whole; competitive, short-term, temporary, profit driven, flexible which by its nature will create insecurity and weak social bonds in individuals. As one individual commented on the quarter life crisis, There is definitely a problem, but I don't think it is confined to twenty-somethings anyone who has to cope with 2 mobiles, a desk phone, 2 fax machines, and very active e-mail and being on call 24x7 for work knows what this pressure is like sometimes you just want to run away. It's real because so many reference points have disappeared. The flipside of an open economy is no guarantees- and a feeling that everyone else has it sorted- when they really don't.
We are surrounded by images of success and designer lifestyles, and in an ‘anything is possible’ society the risk of failure is much greater, Our society (and particularly advertising-led media) constantly exposes us to images of beauty, success and affluence. Most people see a massive gap
between their aspirations and the reality of their lives. In the fairly recent past there was not such a massive gap or 'deficit': Opportunities were possibly less, but so were expectations.
2.10 How Soon is Now? - Achieving ‘Life Statuses’ There are certain ‘life statuses’, or milestones which define one’s personal progress from adolescent or young person to adult. They are defining moments which are both the product and manifestation of increased life experience, maturity, wealth, independence and responsibility for oneself and others. These milestones include getting married, buying a house and having children. Today’s youth are much older homeowners than previous generations and are having fewer (if any) children. The turnaround between generations has been remarkably rapid. In the 1940s, only one in 10 women was childless. Now, that figure stands at almost one in four, (Joanna Briscoe, The generation that took a gamble, Saturday September 13, 2003, The Guardian). The reasons for these ‘delays’ are interlinked – (a) policies (e.g. the structure and availability of support/ financial constraints),and, (b) culture (e.g. individualisation and the subsequent changes in society). Although many women are delaying having children because of their careers, the costs of child care (after statutory maternity leave) and the reality of not being able to cope financially on a single wage also influences these so called ‘choices’. With limited infrastructure to support working mothers, not all women can afford to take time out from work. Those that do are often from the female elite who can afford to choose; who either have saved sufficient funds, are self-employed, have extended paid maternity leave or have partners who are high earners. For those women who are benefitdependant before having children, trying to find employment which can cover the cost of housing, childcare and bills is extremely hard and many, (indeed most), remain in the benefits trap as work simply ‘does not pay’. The financial and cultural pressures for women to work are also great. Although admitting that her comments may have been 'misguided', the Minister for Women, Patricia Hewitt criticised women who choose not to work, stating that stay at home mothers were failing to pay the state back for the cost of their education, (the Women and Equality Unit). This gives a clear indication of government thinking and priorities, that is, the economy first and family life second, (Lisa O'Kelly, It beats working, Sunday June 6, 2004, The Observer). Indeed, ‘the family’ as the stable, conventional life-long unit is fading. Both women and men are faced with often incompatible demands and expectations, where private and professional boundaries of what is and isn’t acceptable are redrawn, (Beck-Gernstein, 2002), and gender roles (e.g. division of labour and the ‘breadwinner’ and ‘provider’) are now blurred. For example, current discourse on, and expectations of ‘family values’ and ‘community cohesion’ sit very uncomfortably alongside the reality of work with it’s long hours culture, uncertain/flexible employment tenures, competitiveness, speed and change and being available 24/7 thanks to email and the mobile phone. As Jill Kirby writes, This Government has a vision of family life, which appears to be based on an assumption that men and women should be homogenous and interchangeable. In this vision, all adults of working age, regardless of gender or parental status, should be in full-time paid employment, earning the same amount of money and taking equal shares in their domestic responsibilities. The problem is that this vision ignores the changes, which come about in the lives of women when they become mothers. It assumes that, given the choice between work and home 30
responsibilities, women will exercise that choice in the same way as men. In other words, that their priority will be participation in the job market. But the evidence shows that the choices women make are based on a different set of priorities from those of their male counterparts, (2003). For women, discrimination, (e.g. unequal pay and glass ceilings) still exists in the workplace and for those in work who plan to have children, current EOC research shows that, [E]ach year around 30,000 working women are sacked, made redundant or leave their jobs due to pregnancy discrimination, (press release, www.eoc.org.uk , results available Summer 2005). For women (those aged 16-25, and above) it is clear then that discrimination and prejudice still exists in relation to deciding to be a ‘stay at home’ mother, accessing childcare facilities,(allowing them to (re-)enter the labour market) and also, as the current EOC research illustrates, in employment. As with women, balancing ‘family values’ and work is irreconcilable for many men, who find the expectation of being both an ambitious, ruthless and hard working employee and a sensitive modern family man difficult to pull off. Becoming home owners – another adult ‘life status’ – is proving extremely difficult for young first time buyers who are faced with a booming house market which has seen prices increase by approximately 23% yearly. For all young people, not just those traditionally seen as ‘excluded’ or ‘disadvantaged’ becoming home owners is almost impossible, [A]t most points in the past, young graduate couples could confidently dream of the well-worn ownership path from a graduate flat to a three-bed family home before finally snaring that five-bed dream house in the suburbs, but with prices rising by 244 per cent in the capital and at least 82 per cent in our cities over the last 10 years, that kind of progression is increasingly difficult, (Greg Gordon, Decline and fall of trading up, Sunday November 7, 2004, The Observer). Although wages usually correspond to where you live and are therefore accordingly – in theory – relative to house prices, in practice this is not the case. Current wages are now worth less than 1997 and 12% less than the Baby Boomer generation. A couple (let alone a single person) is finding achieving the first foot-hold on the property ladder difficult. This financial burden has immediate and future knock on effects for young people. We are all now part of a ‘plastic’ and ‘debt’ society, but many YP have increased burdens due to house prices and student loans, (e.g. BBC programme ‘Bank of Mum and Dad’), and looking ahead, the pension crisis looms, Everyday I struggle to find the will to go on. I'm 29 and have been made redundant 3 times. Because of this I have no pension built up, even though I have been working for 13 years. I've not been able to build a career or have proper salary increases. To buy a small two-bed terrace house in a rough area of where I live would cost me £160,000. A studio flat is currently about £97,000. I don't live in London, God alone knows how much you need there to buy property. In short I've got no future have I, no job, no home, no pension for my old age, but it's not going to go away when I hit 30. I imagine it will only get worse.
The field research explored a variety of different issues with different stakeholders through interviews and questionnaires. All these issues were central to the research, and are outlined below. The 26 questionnaires used with community youth groups and NDYP advisors were returns from a mail-out. A few were followed up with telephone interviews – where the individual agreed to follow-up contact. Access proved to be an important issue. Project and programmes co-ordinators initially contacted were particular concerned about client confidentiality, fragility and research fatigue.
3.1 Questionnaires The questionnaire was made up of three parts, PART 1 – EMPLOYMENT This section explored how decided young people were in relation to their career choices and goals and what were the main influences behind these choices (e.g. financial, genuine interest, opportunity to travel, career progression, good benefits /perks and family, school, programmes, media, employer or peer pressure/ influence).
PART 2 - EMPLOYABILITY - ‘attributes’ This section asked how important are particular attributes and skills in order for young people to compete in today’s labour market? (e.g. qualifications, work experience, communication skills, confidence and self esteem, flexible/ adaptable, motivation, resourcefulness and appearance, etc.). This section also asked youth workers about the main impact(s) of their work (programme) on young people. How did they (through their work) ‘empower’ their clients? (e.g. give young people control of choices, provide supportive relationships, confidence /self esteem, knowledge, skills/skills development, an environment for networking and develop and instil responsibility, etc.).
PART 3 – DISCRIMINATION This section was used to explore what (if any) discrimination had been experienced with the young people themselves. Also, the question, who discriminates? was asked, (e.g. employers, peers and media, etc.). In relation to other SEQUAL themes, this section asked the young people and youth workers about their experience and views relating to disability, religious and political belief, gender, race and sexual orientation).
3.2 Young People and Youth ‘Experts’ The generic questionnaire was used with • 5 young people who were tracked during the project (Table 9, below) • 4 youth ‘experts’ (reference group or ‘sounding board’) • 16 community based youth groups • 10 New Deal for Young People advisers The young people tracked were all volunteers. It was crucial for the research to be informed by young people who wanted to give their input, rather than to ‘cherry-pick’ or ‘compensate’ or ‘reward’ individuals for their time. Despite hardly being representative in terms of numbers, the five individuals had very diverse backgrounds (e.g. class, race and political status). Their experiences, views, interests and concerns were felt to be extremely honest, genuine and valid. Meetings were held every two or three months, informally in London, usually in fast-food outlets or in parks. Email and telephone contact was used in between meetings when necessary. The four youth experts responded to mail-outs or were recommended to the researcher. Emails were exchanged between meetings and their expertise, advice and input were very helpful in giving a wider perspective to the issues surrounding young people. They were experienced youth workers and professionals in the field, • Connexions Personal Advisor • Manager - Behavioural Improvement Project (BIP) in Hackney working with schools • Manager - Advice & Counselling Service in Greenwich • Project and Management Consultant who had previously been a teacher, youth worker and had extensive knowledge of youth-work issues, project and programmes. Two ‘experts’ changed jobs during the research.
Table 9 Profile of Young People ‘tracked’ on the project GNVQ Health and Social Care, with ALICE Female – Black Single parent a view to do a childminding course background Connexions (and then to study child psychology (mother remarried at University) 2003) GNVQ Health and Social Care, with MARY Female - Mixed Single parent background (divorced) a view to do a childminding course. race Unsure about HE Community group A’ levels (with view to study JANE Female – White Refugee background (Kosovar) pharmacology at University) Connexions Mental Health Issues IT Diploma course and Business STEVE Male – White Studies (BS). (diagnosed with Connexions epilepsy approx 3 yrs Dropped BS as could not cope after being diagnosed with epilepsy. ago) Feels there was/is a lack of support at school Starting International Relations BSc Single parent JOHN Male – White at University (Oct ’04). Concerned background (father Independent about student loans – estimated at died at early age) 33
7-10K each year.
3.3 Employment All the young people had a clear idea of what they wanted to do except for STEVE. ALICE, JANE and JOHN all had plans to go to University. Although MARY, experienced health problems during the research and had to change child-minding courses she remained surprisingly and extremely focused and resilient on progressing onto another course (related to childcare) after completing her current one. JOHN hopes to emigrate to Canada a year or two after graduation, in order to have a “better quality of life”, maybe to work as a researcher in the social sciences. STEVE was diagnosed with epilepsy just before the research had begun, and as a result of not being able to cope, dropped one of his two courses. He suffers from a lack of concentration and a “bad memory”. He is determined to complete his course but had no decisive opinion about what he wanted to do afterwards as managing the epilepsy was the main concern and remained so throughout the research. STEVE’s experience highlights the long road to being, and indeed, feeling ‘job-ready’. In terms of employment as child minders, child psychologists, primary school teachers, ALICE and MARY were very aware of the qualifications required, how long they would have to study, what subjects, appropriate legislation, safety and confidentiality issues and what options were available to them (e.g. working abroad). JOHN planned to do an MA but he was still unsure what in. For all the young people, the main reason for their choice of career is interest. ALICE and MARY recognised also that childcare was a good profession to go into, “people are always going to have kids”, offering good financial prospects and other attractive possibilities; “you can work from home or travel abroad”. JANE stated that her choice of studying pharmacology was also based on the belief that “it’s secure, a good sector…people will always need medicine”. STEVE believed IT was “secure”. Both ALICE and MARY spend at least one day a week at job placement (at a children’s nursery) which is organised by their college. They both “adore” children and find the work rewarding despite feeling that they are not treated with respect, valued and are given the “crap jobs to do”. They find the placements useful as there is some continuity to the work allowing them to learn things, develop their skills and build relationships, ALICE, “you become a member of the team”. All the young people described the world of work as “competitive and hard”, JANE had great confidence in the future and described herself as a “terrier…I can’t wait to get in there!.” She believed that the labour market offered work “…for everyone. If you want to work, everyone has their place and there’s a place for everyone”. ALICE said “you have to look after No1”. MARY stated “you have to work longer these days”. Both ALICE and MARY showed an understanding of the world of childcare and childminding saying that working with children is “emotional and difficult”, and based on recent high profile abuse cases, they had an awareness of the potential health and safety issues , complications
and risks involved (e.g Louise Woodward in the USA). STEVE was concerned about how employers and work colleagues would treat him in relation to his epilepsy, “you can’t see it so I might just lie, I don’t want to be treated differently”. Ironically JOHN had more concerns about the world of work, “I don’t know if my degrees will get me what I want. I like studying and it’s an investment, but I’m not sure it’ll be immediately worth it”. JOHN estimates he will have to take a student loan of £7,000£10,000 each year for fees and to support himself in London. He plans to work during holidays in order to pay off the loans each year so he does not graduate with an enormous student loan hanging over his head. This though has other implications, “I don’t want my work to suffer, but I’ll manage. I’d rather work and study now then be stressed out about a growing debt…” Work experience was seen as being crucial to both learning and developing skills and combating the view that young people have no experience, as JANE stated “employers think we don’t have the skills or experience”. Short-term, one-off work experience placements were seen to be inadequate and piecemeal, ALICE “employers take advantage by using work experience to make us do jobs no one else will do”, and JANE ”running errands and photocopying, that’s all I did…it was a waste of time for everybody…”.
3.4 Spheres of Influence and Stakeholder Responsibility Family, friends, schools, programmes and projects, employers and the media play an important role in influencing the views, decisions, choice of employment and career and expectations young people have or make. Although these stakeholders and the relationship a young person has with them can be empowering and positive, it is also important to recognise that these can also be disempowering, for example issues such as family breakdown, peer pressure, unrealistic role models all affect a young persons behaviour, expectations and choices, youth is the stage of life during which we are most imprintable, (p. 289, Mannheim, The Problem of Generations, Clarenden Press, 1952). The immediate family and close circle of friends are the most important and influential relationships. It is these relationships that young people trust, as ALICE and MARY agreed, “my family and a few close friends…that’s it!”. Definitions of trust vary for young people and whether trust is an outcome or a source is also debatable and problematic. In relation to the influence of other stakeholders to their career choice, ALICE and MARY stated that the choice was theirs and influenced purely by interest although they received a lot of advice from the Connexions Advisor and a lot of support from their parents. For JANE, the main influence in choosing pharmacology was her parents who wanted her to get a secure and professional job. JANE is more interested in “the media”, but is happy to pursue pharmacology because “I can see the benefits and it’s the right thing to do”. For STEVE and JOHN the choice of course was their own, although STEVE had a lot of support from his Advisor and parents. In relation to the general question of “what are the main influences in young people’s choices”, peer pressure was seen by far as the strongest factor, MARY stated, “a lot of friends just started courses in beauty therapy because their mates were doing it and then they dropped out. They’re just not thinking ahead”. ALICE, MARY and JANE felt
that peer pressure could be alleviated if there were “more options made available”. Schools were seen as central in facilitating change by offering more information on choices available as well as advising individuals properly when “it’s obvious they’re doing something because of their mates”. Peer pressure was also seen as having negative effects beyond simply course or career choice. All the young people stated that drugs featured heavily. Smoking pot was common and obtaining drugs “was easy”. A 2004 European survey UK respondents (505 young people) aged 15-14 rated peer pressure (62%) the highest reason why people experiment with drugs, followed by curiosity (59%) and thrill seeking (47%). In relation to access to drugs, 51% of those aged 15-24 stated it is easy to get drugs in or near my school/college, while 65% stated it is easy to get drugs near where I live. 38% had already tried cannabis and 18% had tried other drugs. In terms of gender, education and class, young men, those with lower qualifications and in low skilled and manual jobs tended to experiment with drugs more than others, (EOS Gallup Europe, 2004). In response to the question of “what should the main influences be”, employers were seen as key in promoting their jobs and being more involved in informing the choices of young people. Both ALICE and MARY learnt ‘what employers want’ as part of their GNVQ course. They found this helpful – especially the more practical advice surrounding CV building and letter writing. Even so, employers could do more. Talks were seen as a way they could describe what they do, explain what qualifications you need to get and how long you would need to train or study for, as well as outline what a typical day or week might entail. JANE stated, “Employers should be more involved. They should ‘recycle’ real experience. Real people should talk to young people more”. MARY said employers were a “…challenge. They think we’re kids and that’ll never change!”. The young people felt that they do not get a wide enough idea of “what jobs are out there” and this is supported by research undertaken by the Industrial Society, (1997) which showed that 63% of young people aged 16-25 felt that schools did not prepare them for the real world. And PricewaterhouseCoopers commented, whilst the survey shows that many finalists are not in fact disillusioned, as had been suggested in some recent student surveys, some of them do appear to be somewhat ill-informed… there is some potential waste of talent as a result of this lack of research into the graduate job market. The sooner this year’s (and next year’s) finalists set about researching and applying for jobs, the better for them and for their potential employers, (The Graduates of 2004 – A Disillusioned Generation?, 2005). For youth workers in community youth groups and NDYP advisors, parents/guardians, peers and programmes/projects were seen as the current main influencers on young people in terms of support and influencing their career choices. Although peers were seen as an inevitable influence, their responses to who should be the main influencers, put schools, programmes/ projects and parents top. Employers were seen as important but not crucial. What we can see is that for those who work and advise young people, great emphasis is given to conduits and facilitators of support and influence, such as parents/ guardians, schools and programmes/ projects.
What is also clear is that young people need and require more information from real employers, whose engagement is vital in providing young people with information on real jobs based on experience. The young people being tracked all were keen to hear about what “other” and alternative jobs were ‘out there’ based on real experience; graphic designers, textile/ fashion designers, pharmacists, journalists and architects were all mentioned by the young people. One NDYP advisor highlighted the danger of training and career choices being influenced by the media and fashion, “…there was funding pumped into a DJ course and nothing else. Why? Because everyone wanted to be the next big DJ in Ibiza and in the clubs. The fact is, only maybe 1 or 2 will make it, the others will fail. What a waste of money…”. Other professional highlighted a similar point and emphasised the problem of raising expectations about and promoting, “jobs and lifestyles which are frankly unattainable”. One youth ‘expert’ was cynical about the politics behind local partnership, stating, “Partnership are just another ‘measure’ about ‘measures’ rather than changing the culture of work”, adding that “territorialism exists” between different services, as “targets have to be met”. Targets were seen as a burden and counterproductive by all the experts. In relation to schools, one ‘expert’ commented, “education is underfunded. Teachers have a specific brief - to follow a curriculum – a measurement issue again. Schools don’t see potential, [in young people], or try to find it”.
3.5 Employability ‘Attributes’ Most of the attributes listed in the questionnaire were seen to be important although when pushed to choose the most important 5 or 6, the young people showed awareness of what employers want and were very consistent in their views. ALICE felt that the most important attributes are being/having; Independent; communication skills; patience; humour; resilience and responsible for yourself MARY felt that the most important attributes are being/having; Qualifications; communication skills; interpersonal skills; responsible-self and appearance JANE felt that the most important attributes are being/having; Qualifications; communication skills; interpersonal skills; motivation; quick thinker; reflection; resourcefulness and appearance, (the latter “because it’s important to others”) STEVE felt that the most important attributes are being/having; Qualifications; work experience; communication skills; interpersonal skills and appearance JOHN felt that the most important attributes are being/having; Qualifications; communication skills; interpersonal skills; motivation; quick thinker; resourcefulness; responsible for self and for others.
Although all the attributes in the questionnaire were seen to be important, community youth workers and NDYP advisors saw; work experience, communication skills, appearance (in relation to employers), flexibility, interpersonal skills, confidence and self esteem, motivation, resourcefulness, responsibility for self, responsibility for others and being a team player as key ‘employability attributes’. The youth ‘experts’ highlighted that developing a sense of ‘responsibility to self’ and to others is vital in increasing motivation and combating apathy in young people. These skills or attributes were seen as a “foundation, when they have motivation and a sense of responsibility for themselves and towards others, you’re half way there”. The Princes Trust Personal 12 step Development Programme was highlighted by two youth experts as an example of good practice as it aims at improving softer skills (3.6, below). All the ‘experts’ were concerned about, “the country’s obsession with getting 50% of young people into higher education”, as one stated, “traditional academia is still more valued, this needs to be addressed”. All the youth experts, workers and NDYP advisors highlighted the point of ‘job readiness’. Much more than qualifications, the emphasis are now on ‘employability’ and developing the skills which will give young people the chance to compete in the labour market. There was a strong emphasis on building individual skills. This was meant in terms of recognising that each young person’s needs are different and that self-responsibility and respect are needed in order to develop interpersonal skills. Instilling motivation and responsibility were key words repeated at meetings over and over again, …”you have to get the platform right…a positive attitude, and then go onto practical job-search skills”. As well as ‘skilling’ young people for work, where skills such as “tolerance, teambuilding and communication”, were constantly mentioned, there was a strong emphasis on preparing young people about work, “about survival and what the world of work is really like”. As one ‘expert’ said, “one client was surprised at my criticism of him being late for work, he said, ‘well I got in on time on 2 days’, with a sort of…’what more do you want’ attitude”. Parents were seen as having a strong and potential negative, where a culture of unemployment and negative attitudes to employment is continued – inherited – from generation to generation, “some [young people] have lived with parents who have never worked”. Also, parents sometimes do not work in partnership with youth workers by failing to attend meetings, showing an interest and most importantly sharing responsibility, “I called up [name] mum to talk to her about her son but she didn’t see that he had a problem let alone that maybe she had a role to play in working through it with him”. Some parents do not want to accept or admit that their child has a problem since it may reflect negatively on their parenting. Others are uninterested or do not have the time. Another ‘expert’ stated, “how can you tell a young person he shouldn’t be swearing at work when the first thing he hears when he gets home is f*** this and f*** that?”
The youth experts put much emphasis on socio-political and economic contexts influencing young people, the labour market, and the relationship between the two, “[the] community has disappeared. Thatcherism and its emphasis on individualism means that support structures have disappeared. You’re on your own”. They felt that young people are expected to ‘fit in’ and adapt to changing structures, economic needs and policy. This individualism opens up opportunities but simultaneously creates further risks as few safety nets exist. Beck’s work on individualization and the Risk Society (1992) proves especially useful in exploring relationships to, and the affects of structures and social networks on young people. Youth transitions to adulthood is complex and diverse. Some are determined to some extent by ‘traditional’ criteria such as race, class and gender but structure is playing a much more important role and Beck is helpful in framing such developments. He suggests that an erosion of traditional ties and structures are the results of a global movement to a new ‘risk society’ where traditional institutions such as the community and family and values such as loyalty (in the workplace) are made obsolete and no longer able to deal with the expectations and ‘risks’ of the new modernity. Again, the process of individualization with general social, demographic and economic trends have had a powerful impact on the experience of being young. Policy changes in education, housing, and employment have prolonged the reliance of many young people on their families (Coles, 1995).
Needs – ‘Empowerment Indicators’: expected and actual impact of projects and programmes Responses to this question from the young people (ALICE, MARY, JANE and STEVE) illustrated very similar Expectations. These were, gaining or improving knowledge; skills/ skills development; supportive relationships; resources for help/ information and networking/ communication. Only JANE felt that she did not receive the resources for help/information she was hoping for, “more details like statistics and University prospectuses”. Expectations though were surpassed for three of the four individuals in gaining an understanding of others; supportive relationships, control of choices, values, advice and guidance and skills/ skills development. The Connexions service was highly praised as offering on the whole, “a good wide-ranging service” and it, “doesn’t force you, but makes you responsible”. The young people felt Connexions “treats you with respect – like an adult”, something crucial to young people. Only STEVE felt that although he received a lot of sympathy and advice, a more structured and ‘joined-up’ service is needed to provide genuine support for people who require specialised help and advice. Current research by the Camelot Foundation and the Mental Health Foundation believe schools are best placed to offer advice and help to young people about mental health issues, as they offer a safe and stable environment and most importantly, are able to reach all young people, something other youth services cannot. The young people that used the Connexions service and other youth group facilities stated that, “the relaxed nature and social aspect with no ties is important”, (‘communities of interest’). ALICE said that her mum also got advice and in the end was job-searching after being long term unemployed for over a decade.
The Princes Trust Personal 12 step Development Programme focuses on giving young people, aged 16-25 the chance to develop key life skills such as communication; problem solving; working as part of a team, whilst taking part in challenges which will help the local communities and environment. The challenge is in effect a project, and the young person works as part of a team from the outset. With help from a full time Team Leader and other experts the team chooses a community or environmental project, and is responsible for all phases, from the planning, organising and fundraising, and finally to completion The programme is a 12-week ‘challenge’ and includes team building activities and a week long residential, ensuring that the individuals get to know each other and work together effectively. As part of the programme, individuals are expected to attend a work placement for 2-3 weeks, and during the programme, work on CV building and interview skills. The programme is available through FE colleges for volunteers, employed, unemployed, and anyone interested in improving their skills or anyone with a general interest in the community. The course is also available as the ‘voluntary option’ to individuals on the New Deal programme, and lasts 26 weeks. Practically (and pragmatically) though, money was something mentioned by all young people as something which would ‘empower’ them. For ALICE and MARY more disposable income would give them more independence and freedom. ALICE stated that her grandmother had saved some money to support her through University so she was not too concerned about fees. Such inter-generational support (financial), transfer of funds (inheritance) and services (babysitting) is common and has become an important new field of study, (Kohli, 1996). Since pensions enable grandparents to alleviate many burdens by helping their children and grandchildren, the future pensions crisis will have an undoubtedly massive effect on young people. For JANE money was important in relation to paying fees (etc.) at University in a year or so. For STEVE, some extra disposable income was welcome. For JOHN, as mentioned previously, financial assistance with current fees and living expenses would remove some pressure from his current studies. In terms of ‘empowerment’ certain key words and themes were repeated throughout the tracking period. These were (a) independence – usually obtained with financial means, and (b) being valued by adults - obtained by older generations – employers (and parents, teachers, etc.) relinquishing and surrendering some ‘power’ by trusting and giving young people more responsibility. Half way through the tracking period, MARY, who had often talked about her wish to “have my own place”, obtained a hostel room by claiming she had been evicted by her mother. Despite this being false, her mother wrote a letter to the local authority corroborating her daughter’s story. MARY saw nothing wrong with what she had done, stating that she had a “right” to what state provision was available and also that if the system allows itself to be abused, then it will be.
Unbeknown to the local authority, ALICE’S mother had moved away after remarrying. Even so, ALICE and her brother remained in the house for several months until neighbours complained about the noise ALICE’S brother and his friends were making. Again, as with MARY, ALICE did not see that continuing to live in the house was wrong and illegal in any way, her only regret was getting caught. For both, any questions of the moral ‘right and wrongs’ were secondary to their “right”, because as British citizens “we should come before “refugees and asylum seekers”
3.7 Discrimination and Diversity The research explored discrimination in relation to the other work packages SEQUAL researched. Race and ethnicity Issues of race and ethnicity, were strongly associated to topics of immigration, refugees and asylum. ALICE and MARY both had negative opinions towards refugees and asylum seekers, “they take all the good jobs and houses”. They were also seen as “dirty”, “bad news”, “scroungers”, “can’t speak English” and both felt that “we should stop them coming”. Their opinions were based predominantly on the (negative) media coverage of immigration, as well as conversations with friends and family. Neither ALICE nor MARY knew any refugees or asylum seekers well, although they knew of young people at school who were refugees. In exploring their views, it was clear that neither really understood, or importantly, were interested in obtaining more information on, or a broader perspective of the issues. JANE is now a British citizen but because of her own refugee experience felt sympathetic to other refugees and asylum seekers. She felt that refugees and asylum seekers were scapegoats and was upset and angry at the media for their inaccurate portrayal. STEVE was more critical about structure and systems “immigration is out of control”, rather than being against refugee and asylum seekers themselves, “most of the refugees come from parts of the world where we have been to and ruined!” Importantly neither ALICE nor JANE felt that they had ever been discriminated against on the basis of their race or ethnicity (but definitely age!). JANE felt that she had faced prejudice because of her refugee status and background and (through this) because of her ethnicity also, which she saw as her ‘identity’ - being Kosovar.
Religious and political belief In relation to religious and political belief none of the young people have any strong religious affiliations. Negativity was raised by 3 individuals. ALICE, MARY and STEVE correlated Islam/ terrorism/ refugees and immigrants. Islam was seen to be discriminatory against women by limiting or not allowing choice (e.g. dress, marriage, etc.). JANE and JOHN were concerned that im/migrants and BME individuals and communities are being or will be targeted unfairly because of the ’war on terror’.
Sexual orientation This did not prove to be such as emotive issue with the tracked young people (unlike race and ethnicity). Young people today have grown up with these issues being openly discussed, and cities such as London and Brighton have established, fashionable gay communities, cultures and economies. Although for many ‘coming out’ is still difficult, the introduction of legislation protecting employees from discrimination on the grounds of their sexual orientation is a progressive step. All the young people tracked had no prejudice against a person’s sexual orientation but believed that employers and work colleagues were more likely to discriminate than young people. ALICE and MARY have lesbian and gay friends. JOHN, although not for religious reasons, felt “uncomfortable with the idea of same sex couples raising children”.
Disability In relation to disability, both ALICE and MARY have close relatives who suffer from/with a disability or long-term illness, (e.g. an elderly relative with autism and diabetes. and a cousin who had a kidney transplant and is a wheelchair user). MARY, STEVE and JOHN felt strongly that the environment was “very unfriendly” to disabled people, making mobility awkward at best and impossible at worst. Public transport was mentioned as being particularly bad. In terms of employment, disabled people were thought to be the most discriminated group (out of the SEQUAL themes). Misinformation existed and therefore ignorance. It was felt that employers would “discriminate more than the bloke in the street” because they were seen to be reluctant to invest (time, patience and money) on a disabled employee. Some ‘trends’ have emerged. Discrimination based on disability was highlighted most often and seen as most problematic in relation to ‘changing culture and attitudes’. In relation to sexual orientation and disability, lesbian, gay and disabled youth were seen to face more discrimination by employers and work colleagues than in wider society. The researcher also explored the opinions of community youth group workers, NDYP advisors and the youth ‘experts’. Youth workers and NDYP advisors felt that the discrimination faced by young people because of their age was “due to lack of experience”. This was manifested in “lower wages, a lack of training and support”. There was some sympathy for SMEs (small and medium sized enterprises), who were seen to have “less funds available to take on apprentices”. Young gay and lesbian youth were seen to be discriminated more by “other employees rather than employers”. This was manifested by “language and media stereotyping” In relation to BME youth, as with all of the SEQUAL themes, there was a general feeling that there was discrimination based on negative stereotyping and ignorance. It was felt that ‘culture’ had improved although institutional racism was felt to still exist. As with the young people, youth workers and NDYP advisors felt that disabled youth faced the most prejudice and discrimination, Disabled youth (indeed, people) are
wrongly stereotyped as “lacking qualifications and experience”. There was seen to be a “lack of access, awareness and a lot of ignorance”, and that employers were “put off because of cost implications”. The opinion was very much that a top-down cultural change was required. Policy and structure had to “encourage training and awarenessraising to promote a better understanding among employers”, while finding and investment was needed to improve “working environment for disabled people”. The youth ‘experts’ were an invaluable source of support, encouragement and information throughout the research. Their responses very much echoed those of the young people, youth workers and NDYP advisors. Additional comments included the view that the NMW – although in principal a positive policy - did discriminate against certain young people, namely those living independently (in hostels, etc), who find it difficult to make ends meets. There was also a concern that the NMW was not being regulated and that abuses and exploitation of young people was rife. For lesbian and gay youth, there was a fear that “coming out at work can still mean bullying or harassment by co-workers”. Again, as above, there was concern that employers were not taking these issues seriously. Again, disability was seen as a “a hidden theme. employers need educating…they are put off by the cost of employing disabled workers”. There was a feeling that disability was a large area, and therefore seen to be complicated. Some issues such as physical disabilities and the area of ‘mental health’ remain ‘taboo’. One youth expert stated simply that “disability will never be sexy”.
SEQUAL also looked at cross cutting issues (CCIs) which cut across all the primary themes and work packages. These were Geographical isolation, Health, Language and Citizenship and Participation. These issues are discussed below in relation to young people. 4.1 Health Mental health issues remain poorly understood and individuals inadequately supported both in and outside the workplace, "Employers tend to think that people with mental health problems would be a liability to their firm, difficult to work with, and unable to cope with any workload. This is unfortunately a view that is commonly held throughout society." (The Mental Health Foundation, 2001) The occurrence of mental health illness are increasing among young people, [T]he prevalence of psychiatric disorders in 16-25 year olds has increased and disorders such as depression, schizophrenia and eating disorders are likely to be in their most acute phase during this stage of life, (Young Minds – mental health charity for young people, online).
Nearly half a million (one-in-10) teenagers across the UK self-harm, (a common precursor to suicide), by cutting, burning themselves, or taking an overdoses. Self-harm is a way of coping with emotional problems and is on the increase, although this may be due to an increase in reporting. One in five young people under 20 will experience psychological problems ranging from anxiety and depression to psychotic and major development disorders, (the Mental Health Foundation). Between 1996 and 2000, 2,236 young people under 25 committed suicide in England and Wales, (DoH, 2001). Young men are now more than twice as likely to commit suicide as young women/ girls and suicide is now the second highest cause of death for younger men, (Gomm, in Helle et al., 1996). Depression and suicide are closely linked to deprivation, poverty, drug and alcohol abuse, (long-term) unemployment, and social class, (see Townsend, Whitehead and Davidson, 1992, and Benzeval et al., 1995). What this means in relation to class and young people, is that the ‘cycles of disadvantage and deprivation’ (which persist) are passed on from generation to generation. Poverty and poverty alleviation therefore remains key in breaking the ‘cycles of deprivation’ and associated risks and conditions (depression, unemployment, low educational achievement). However, it should be noted that other ‘classes’ and ‘cohort’ groups, usually seen as ‘the haves’ also suffer from mental health conditions. The individualisation (of responsibility) and the effects debt and money worries have led to an increase of stress and anxiety among students. For example, there has been a 400% increase in (HE) student suicides, (Rebecca Sandles, Thursday, 8 August, 2002, BBC.CO.UK). Recent research has highlighted the negative effect of stress academic performance, with 20% of undergraduates becoming depressed by the end of their second year, [T]here is a real danger that bright students will not achieve their potential because of the financial burden of study and the mental health problems this can cause, (Royal Holloway University, 2004). Anorexia nervosa is more common among welleducated, middle class young women (Cohen and Hart, 1988). What the statistics above illustrate is the distressing state of the young and future workforce. In terms of employability, a lack of confidence, feelings of stress and anxiety, isolation and exclusion can delay many young peoples’ ‘job readiness’ and (re)entry into the labour market. In work, mental health conditions can result in poor work performance, a lack of understanding, an inability to cope with the social aspects of the work situation, problems communicating, being given demeaning jobs with little or no prospects (and working beneath one’s ability), and stigma often leading to discrimination and bullying. The focus on chronology on application forms discriminates against those who suffer with mental health conditions as it is these individuals who may have (short, long, single or repetitive) time off work. Many sufferers fear disclosing their mental health problems to their employers and colleagues which means they have to cope on their own and in silence, which only exacerbates their condition and prolongs their recovery.
4.2 Geographical Isolation and Spatial Inequalities One of the biggest challenges to policy continues to be engaging the interest of the low achieving school leavers, (Table 2 on pg 12 shows GCSE/GNVQ Non-Achievements of 15 year old Boys & Girls). Statistics have shown that NDYP underachievement is undeniably linked with location. Between 1998 and April 2001, an average of 36% of the 640,000 starters continued into ‘sustained jobs’. During this period almost 33% of the 144 local NDYP units had placement rates of above 40%, but in Birmingham and five London Boroughs, fewer than 25% moved into ‘sustained jobs’. Research revealed that the areas with the lowest placement success correlated with those areas of most deprivation and high unemployment, (Glasgow, Newcastle, Teeside, Liverpool, Leeds, Bradford, Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire, and all but six London Boroughs), (Unemployment Unit/ Youthaid, 2001b). Location also plays an important part in relation to the level and quality of services available in any given area. Spending on Youth Services in London varies enormously. According to the Government, many of London's 32 youth services spend up to 10 times more than others. Figures produced by the government illustrate that some boroughs are spending more than £400 per 13-19-year-old, compared to just £40 elsewhere, (www.ypnmagazine.com/). Since 2001, there have been cuts in Youth Service funding in some Boroughs. For example, Islington is now spending approximately £276 per head where it used to spend over £320. The biggest-spending areas are the City of London and Kensington and Chelsea. The City is an anomaly as so few people live there. Such incongruity and variance has led to some questioning the reliability of the figures presented. In 2003/4 Camden Youth Service spent £247.18 on every young person. It was followed closely by Islington, Wandsworth and Kensington and Chelsea, (Ofsted, 2004). On average youth services spent £91.65 on each young person in 2003/4, despite Government stating that services should spend at least £100 per head, (DfES, 2002). Even so, in basic terms these figures illustrate that that services are unequal and that postcode discrimination exists, the effectiveness of policies and programmes remain stubbornly dependent on local economic and institutional conditions – as ‘successful’ programmes remain very difficult to replicate in other locations, as tendentially-decentralising policy regimes exhibit growing spatial unevenness, and as local labour market conditions continue to exert an inordinate influence on programme outcomes, (Peck and Theodore, 2001, p.427). Young people in rural communities can also suffer from exclusion and disadvantage. For example there may be a lack of transport (public and private), which means that access to employment and training is problematic. Also, if there is high unemployment young people may be forced to leave home. Although some, indeed many young people may want to leave, for some it is not a ‘choice’ but a necessity. Sadly, this exodus only helps some rural communities to shrink further into obscurity. A lack of services and social amenities in rural areas may lead young people to cause problems and disturbances, and make them vulnerable to the same gang culture seen in urban areas, (The Countryside Agency, Breaking Down Barriers: Achieving Social Inclusion through Capacity Building, 2004).
Gypsy and travellers may suffer from discrimination and prejudice from settled communities, and for the younger generation, exclusion and discrimination may be exacerbated through inadequate educational provision. The lack of a permanent address further marginalises and excludes this cultural community from the mainstream labour market. Such prejudice and discrimination fails to recognise the skills, abilities, experience and competencies that do exist within this community group, although similar (reverse) discrimination also exists against settled communities. Post-code discrimination is now a recognised practice. Areas (e.g., estates and neighbourhoods) become labelled as ‘trouble spots’ and residents stereotyped as thieves and thus inappropriate employees, (Baldrey in Working Brief 145). When postcode discrimination occurs, application forms from these areas are weeded out immediately.
4.3 Language Some of the terminology used in relation to young people and social exclusion, appear to be at best reinforcing prejudice and negative stereotyping and at worst discriminatory. The term ‘disadvantaged’ is inadequate as is the current ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’ idea and/or approach. As illustrated in this report, the pressures faced by many young people are varied, and those young people who have traditionally been seen as ‘the haves’ (e.g. HE students) also face difficulties such as debt, insecure financial futures (the ‘pension crisis’), and mental health issues. Class plays an important part, for example, drug (mis)use among the professional, middle and upper classes is predominantly seen as ‘recreational’ and hence, less of a problem, social ill or crime. [T]he current emphasis on the most socially excluded should be revised to consider the varying circumstances and needs of all young people. The proverbial iceberg will be overlooked if we focus only on the tip, (Connor, Dewson, Tyers, Eccles, Regan and Aston, 2001, RR267, DfES). Some criteria are simply outdated; in Britain today, 26% of children and young people under the age of 19 live in a one-parent family, (a 50% increase in fifteen years). Is it fair to label over a quarter of young people as ‘disadvantaged’ based on what is a common criterion? Should not terminology and the measures on which they are based, reflect the changing nature and profile of today’s society? The young people who were tracked did not view themselves as ‘disadvantaged’ because of their race, refugee or single parent background, but rather felt that others perceived them as such. For example, STEVE not only felt disadvantaged because of the lack of support available to him, but also the stigma attached and negative views associated with mental health held by others.
There are a number of related issues here; • outdated terminology (‘single parent’) • class bias and prejudice (drug abuse / recreational use; HE students as ‘the haves’) • stigmatisation and ‘scapegoating’ (mental health, ‘single parent’ and ‘Gypsy’ and ‘refugee’).
4.4 Citizenship and Participation ALICE and MARY stated that they had no plans to vote in a General Election at 18, “what’s the point, it won’t make a difference to my life”. Putting a class emphasis on the issue of voting, MARY stated she had no interest in voting saying, “maybe if my mum was a teacher and we’d talk about politics, I would have an interest”. JANE said she would vote believing that “if you have the vote then you should use it”. Far from being apathetic, the young people were very motivated and informed on issues that were important to them personally and which they (felt they had) control over. For ALICE and MARY the war in Iraq was becoming “old and boring news”, and, “I’m not there, so I don’t care…war happens and people get killed every day”. JOHN was interested in politics and current affairs and would vote “if I’m around”, as he goes abroad at every opportunity to visit his girlfriend. His vote would go to the party that had the “fairest social policies” (rather than gain personal benefit). None of the individuals were involved in ‘traditional’ voluntary work or were particularly interested in, or had time for it. None of them were involved in their ‘geographic’ communities. This issue centres around the wider subject of social capital and social cohesion. The OECD defines social capital as networks together with shared norms, values and understandings that facilitate cooperation with or among groups, (Cote and Healy, 2001). The ONS has adopted this definition and has developed a social capital measurement framework which includes five key dimensions, these are; social participation, civic participation, social networks and support, reciprocity and trust, views of local area, (Table 13, below). Each dimension has associated indicators.
Table 13: UK social capital measurement framework Dimension Examples of indicators Social participation Number of cultural, leisure, social groups belonged to and frequency and intensity of involvement Volunteering, frequency and intensity of involvement Religious activity Perceptions of ability to influence events How well informed about local/national affairs Contact with public officials or political representatives Involvement with local action groups Propensity to vote Frequency of seeing/speaking to relatives/friends/neighbours Extent of virtual networks. Frequency of contact Number of close friends/relatives who live nearby Exchange of help Perceived control and satisfaction with life Trust in other people who are like you Trust in other people who are not like you Confidence in institutions at different levels 47
Social networks and social support
Reciprocity and trust
Doing favours and vice versa Perception of shared values Views of the local area Views on physical environment Facilities in the area Enjoyment of living in the area Fear of crime
(Whiting and Harper, 2003)
It has been acknowledged in recent research, (The Henley Centre, 2001 and Whiting and Harper, 2003), that indicators used to measure young peoples’ relationships with their communities and their political involvement and affiliations are inadequate and irrelevant as they define a ‘community’ as a geographical area and fail to recognise that for young people, communities are seen more in terms of interest and are based around, school, town centre and street, friends and relatives houses and sometimes two homes rather than an easily identifiable location, and that ‘trust’ and ‘reciprocity’ are located in individual close relations rather than geographical communities, (Morrow, 2002, p.28). The decay of the church and established religion and an erosion of respect for institutions as such only exacerbate the growing stress on individualism. Young people have become more disconnected from traditional societal and community anchors, and with life changing at such a hasty pace the experiences of parents and grandparents are completely different, and as a result their advice is irrelevant. Young people are seen to be apathetic and are less likely to vote, undertake formal voluntary work and participate in social and civic activities, (see National Centre for Social Research, 2000, Political interest and engagement among young people, JRF – available online, and Kimberlee, 2002, Why Don’t British Young People Vote at General Elections? Journal of Youth Studies, Vol. 5, No.1). Young people are therefore seen more as consumers than producers of social capital. This self-exclusion from traditional activities and involvement in alternative politics is an illustration of the failure of politicians to address the needs, interests and the ‘alternative values’ of young people. Depending on sources, anywhere between 32% to 50% of under 25s did not vote in the 1997 general election while a study undertaken by MORI estimated that only 39% of 1824 year olds voted in the 2001 election, (Electoral Commission, 2001). This apathy is based on a very narrow definition of politics and ignores the increase in membership of so called ‘new social movements’ - based around green, human rights and animal welfare. Membership of Amnesty International’s youth section has risen from 1,300 in 1988 to 15,000 in 2002. Greenpeace has seen its total membership rise from 80,000 in 1987 to 215,000 in 1998 - with the greatest increase in youth membership. Young people are also more involved in activities not measured by current indicators. For example, all of the 5 young people stated that they occasionally buy copies of the Big Issue. Other possible activities include taking part in demonstrations and petitions, recycling and helping or caring for a friend or neighbour,
“[W]e know that young people are doing many positive and productive things, from giving up their time to teach asylum seekers literacy skills in Kent to creating school bus anti-bullying schemes in Wales. Of course some young people commit crimes, but the majority of them are law-abiding. The wall-to-wall coverage of teenage gangs and violent criminals risks stigmatising a whole generation, leading to catch-all policies which discriminate against the vast majority of young people who are just getting on with growing up”, (Steve Barrett, editor of Young People Now magazine, Young People Now www.ypnmagazine.com).
CONCLUSIONS & RECOMMENDATIONS
The young people tracked during this research showed belief and clear ambition in terms of achieving their career goals. They are well informed in some aspects and are pragmatic and resilient, recognising that the labour market is very competitive yet remain positive about their own abilities. ‘Youth’ (as a cultural generation) is shaped by policies, priorities, developments and events. As such many stakeholders are responsible for the young person’s ‘lot’, including parents, peers, schools, projects and programmes, the media, policy makers and employers. Responsibility of achievement and failure is therefore shared amongst some, if not all of these stakeholders at one time or another. Some issues – not specific to young people - are mentioned at the beginning of this report (Executive Summary), other issues have been addressed in the latter sections of Part 2, namely the financial burdens faced by many young people, (e.g. student loans, high house prices and the pension crisis), living with the ‘burden of opportunity’ where expectations are high and the delay of achieving ‘life statuses’ (e.g. buying a home and starting a family). Further issues have been highlighted in Part 4 (Health; Geographical Isolation and Spatial Inequalities, Language and Citizenship and Participation). What have clearly emerged are two related issues which can negatively impact on young people; affecting their choices - or lack of them – • structural, policy-based obstacles • negative stereotyping and prejudice Below are a summary of the key issues and recommendations which have emerged during this research • addressing ‘work’ and ‘life’ skills issues: schools are an ideal area to reach ALL young people (programmes/ projects do not). Although the burden should not entirely rest on them (see ‘Employers’, below), they appear to be the best placed to provide information on life skills (such as money management, pensions) and work skills issues (team working, responsibility, communication and interpersonal skills) Recommendation – Policy makers should incorporate these issues into the citizenship curriculum and projects could provide one-off workshops
making hard to recruit sectors ‘sexy’ and more availability of and money for vocational courses and apprenticeships: There is a need to promote hard to recruit sectors and make them ‘sexy’, (e.g. nursing, and teaching). Also there needs to be better organisation and availability of, and funding for vocational courses and apprenticeships: (e.g. plumbing and construction). Current demand for vocational courses and especially apprenticeships outweighs supply. Better wages and financial support would also raise completion rates Recommendation - Policy makers and employers must raise the profile of jobs currently seen as unattractive. Vocational routes and qualifications must be sold, not only to young people but to employers. One way is to provide more and well paid apprenticeships and raise wages in the public sector, (‘fair pay for fair work’). Many young people are finding it hard to financially balance being independent with a Modern Apprenticeship (MA) • • the 16-18 structural gap - the National Minimum Wage (NMW) and the NDYP: Policy assumes and indeed promotes the idea(l) that at 16 young people remain at home and follow an FE pathway. It fails to support those who, either by choice or need, pursue an independent lifestyle, (e.g. those leaving care, are homeless and who follow vocational routes). The low rate of the NMW for those aged 16, limited social benefit support, and labour market policies which begin to support individuals at the age of 18 result in the further exclusion and marginalisation of those young people who require support the most Recommendation - Policy makers must recognise, accept and support those aged 16 who do not follow traditional routes (i.e. remain with parents and enter FE) • more employer involvement: school visits/ talks by real professionals outlining ‘a typical day’, describing what qualifications are required. Young people should be told – by real professionals - about the plethora of jobs available to them Recommendation - Policy makers must engage employer involvement. This could be achieved by members of professional bodies developing links with local schools. This can be made an integral part of a company’s or professional body’s Corporate Social Responsibility Strategy •
Improve work experience placements: in order to improve ‘employability’, longer and more structured placements are necessary. Some placements are inadequate and are not taken seriously by either the young person or the employer. Young people are more often than not given menial tasks to do. Recommendation - Work experience placements should be better planned with targets set, responsibilities and duties clearly stated. Also longer placements allow employers to ‘invest’ more effort in the young person, giving them long-term tasks and responsibility. • recruitment, training and development: Employers must adopt age-blind practices and recruit employees using the criteria of competency rather than chronology. Also they must invest more in staff in order to improve retention rates, improve employee skills and business productivity. More young people are in employment and get no training than are ‘Not in Education, Employment or Training’ (NEET). The business case must be promoted in order to develop and retain skilled workforce responsive to labour market needs Recommendation – Legislation should make it illegal for employers to ask an applicant their age or date of birth. Policy makers must promote the ‘business case’ 50
in training staff as research shows young people will leave if they are not invested in. Training and staff development are also equal opportunities issues. Legislation must ensure that employers are offering training to staff better communication: there are ‘cultural’ differences between generations: their aims, objectives, opinions and experience Recommendation - Employers should encourage communication between colleagues, e.g. mixed-age project teams and such as cross-generational mentoring • • health: more attention and funding needs to be given to mental health issues and services. What the research has shown is that this is an issue affecting all young people, not merely the traditionally ‘excluded’ or ‘disadvantaged’. Also health issues must not be seen merely as a ‘phase’ which the young person will ‘grow out of’, (e.g. depression, eating disorders and self-harm) Recommendation - More funding for service provision. Better ‘sign-posting’ between services so young people do not ‘fall through the net’. recognising YP involvement in non-traditional activities: young peoples’ contributions are not being captured and go unrecognised by current measurements. Young people are increasingly attached to ‘communities of interest’ rather than geographic ones and are more involved in new social movements Recommendation - policy makers must adjust ‘social capital’ measures and indicators currently used, in order to capture the contributions young people actually do make to their communities. During the research, the issue of ‘being valued’ was very important to young people. They felt that their contributions and abilities were not appreciated or taken seriously • use of language and stereotyping: some terminology is outdated and only stigmatises and scapegoats individuals, (such as having a ‘‘single parent background’ and being a refugee). Their use can only reinforce negative stereotyping, exclusion and disadvantage. Also, the common view that ‘the haves’ are HE students and those from the middle classes, ignores the financial (and health) burdens they experience Recommendation - Policy makers should re-think certain measures and/or criteria used to classify ‘disadvantage’, ensuring, policy reflects (a changing) society •
Annex 1 - Generic Questionnaire
QUESTIONNAIRE SEQUAL Development Partnership - YOUNG ADULTS (16 - 25)
Your name _________________________________ Average length of time a young person spends on your Project/Programme____________________ (months / years – PLEASE SPECIFY)
PART 1 - EMPLOYABILITY (a) In your professional opinion, how decided are young people in relation to employment and career planning? X Clear Unsure but have some idea/s No idea (b) What are the main reasons for a young person’s choice of career ? X Financial Genuine interest Opportunity to travel Fast career progression Good benefits / perks Family pressure/ influence Peer pressure/influence (c) Do you agree ? yes young people have a good, well informed knowledge of the labour market (needs and trends) no COMMENTS COMMENTS COMMENTS
(d) How important are the following ‘attributes’ for young people in terms of ‘employability’? Please rank ALL 1=not at all 2=a little 3=very 4=vital
ATTRIBUTES FOR YOUNG PEOPLE Qualifications Work experience Flexible/ adaptable Solving problems Independent Communication skills Interpersonal skills Having values Open-mindedness Confidence and self esteem Motivation Quick thinker (under pressure) Risk taker Reflection Patience Humour Resourcefulness Persistence Resilience Being responsible- self Being responsible-others Appearance Team-player
IN YOUR EXPERIENCE
FOR EMPLOYERS (IN GENERAL)
(some attributes taken from NIACE/NYA Young Adult Learners Partnership (YALP) Forum)
PART 2 – ABOUT YOUR PROJECT/ PROGRAMME IMPACT (“Empowerment Indicators”) In your experience, what has been the level of impact of your project on young people ? 1 not at all INDICATOR Confidence / Self esteem Knowledge Skills/skills development Supportive relationships Resources for help/ information Control of choices Values Networking/ communication - contact with employers Training/ qualifications Responsibility Understanding of others Flexibility Advice and guidance 2 a little 3 a lot COMMENTS 4 significant
PART 3 - SPHERES OF INFLUENCE
(a) How important SHOULD/ARE these ‘spheres of influence’? 1 not at all 2 a little 3 very
SPHERE OF INFLUENCE School Parents/Guardians Peers Employers Projects and programmes COMMENTS
PART 4 – DISCRIMINATION (a) How far do you agree with the following statements ? 1 2 strongly disagree disagree 3 agree 4 strongly agree
in the labour marke t
in society in general
how is the discrimination manifested and/ or why does it occur ?
Young people are discriminated against Lesbian and Gay youth are discriminated against Disabled youth are discriminated against BEM youth are discriminated against Please add any COMMENTS on discrimination
Would you be prepared to meet with me to discuss your responses and these and other issues further? YES NO If YES, please leave a contact Tel. No. and/ or e-mail address -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Would it be possible to meet with some of your clients – young people – to discuss these issues further? YES NO THANK YOU FOR COMPLETING THIS FORM
Annex 2 - Young People and the Media: The Facts
One in three articles about young people are about crime (Young People and the Media, Mori). 26 per cent of young people in school admit to committing a crime but only seven per cent of that group have committed crimes leading to police involvement (Mori/ YJB) 71 per cent of press stories about young people are negative and only 14 per cent are positive (Young People and the Media, Mori) Young people are only quoted in eight per cent of stories about them (Young People and the Media, Mori) Two-thirds of 11-18 year olds would not trust a journalist to tell them the truth (Mori/ Nestle Family Monitor 2003) Young people see the press as finger-wagging and authoritarian, telling them what they “should and shouldn’t be doing” They also see journalists as prone to exaggeration. “They’ll get anything to put in there if they’re short of something to write. They don’t care if it hurts someone’s reputation.” said one young person 90 per cent of youth workers believe that tabloid newspapers give a negative impression or very negative impression of young people. 69.2 per cent believe local papers are negative or very negative, and 61.5 per cent think broadsheets are negative or very negative. (Young People Now reader survey 2004) 93 per cent of youth workers believe that youth groups should be more proactive in promoting positive stories about young people, while 41 per cent say that young people should be taught media literacy and campaigning. (Young People Now reader survey 2004) Young people were referred to as thugs 26 times and yobs 21 times in a survey of 74 tabloid and broadsheet articles about young people and crime. Other descriptors included evil, lout, monsters, brutes, scum, menace, heartless, sick, menacing and inhuman. (Shape the Debate campaign, 2002 - 2003)
Source: Young People Now magazine, (www.ypnmagazine.com).
Annex 3 - Media Good Practice Case Studies Children’s Express Children’s Express is a news agency where young people produce news and features for the mainstream media. It is facilitated by adult journalists and youth workers. “The young people here want to challenge some of the stereotypes that adults have about them,” says Paula Yeoman, outreach journalist. “We do quite a lot on youth crime, and also issues like healthy eating and general safety, and we look at it from a young person’s perspective.” Sonti Ramirez, 13, works at Children’s Express producing documentaries. She recently spent a week filming two young people’s theatre groups to see how they worked together and overcame barriers. The film is due to be shown in cinemas as part of the International Festival of Theatre. She says it’s important to show images of young people getting on, rather than being violent. “I don’t think the media talk about young people as much as they should,” she says, “and when they do it’s usually to portray them as offenders.” Citizen Y Michael Cooper is campaign co-ordinator for Citizen Y in Edinburgh, an organisation dedicated to improving the image of the city’s young people. “When other groups such as asylum seekers are portrayed badly, there is an organisation to stand up for them,” he says. “But there’s not really such a group for young people, so it’s important to challenge the negative images.” Citizen Y does that by staging public events, such as plays and demonstrations. In 2003 it put on a play at the Edinburgh Festival (“Who are you calling a ned?”) which was wellreceived in the local media, including Newsnight Scotland and the Evening News newspaper. Antisocial behaviour was being debated a lot at the time, which made the play particularly topical. In fact, Cooper says that was exactly why it was important to stage the play. “The negative image that often appears in the media now seems to be influencing policy and legislation,” he says. “The recent Anti Social Behaviour Bill in Scotland is an example of a reaction to the negative stereotype of young people with very punitive rather than supportive measures.” Karen Sutherland, 17, played a news reporter in the play. “I get quite annoyed at how young people are reported in the media,” she says. “When you watch TV you find we are not really talked about as people, we are things. Reporters make comparisons between the good, decent people in society and then there are young people.” Karen points out that when Scotland’s anti-social behaviour bill was being reported, it was usually accompanied by stories of young people behaving badly. “But the bill isn’t just about young people,” she says. “During Edinburgh Festival there are a lot of adults behaving anti-socially.”
The Warrington Guardian The Warrington Guardian has run a youth page in its weekly newspaper since 1997. “The young people came to us originally,” explains Gareth Dunning, news editor. “The page is done in partnership with the local council and youth workers. They really run it but we try to give guidance especially with writing and picture sourcing and maybe coming up with some of the ideas. They come up with their own issues and it can be anything that they think is relevant, we recently had something on school lunches, and smoking." The youth workers and young people come to the Warrington Guardian’s offices on a Thursday evening. “They’ll already have come up with their ideas, and they work on it together here, a bit like in a youth club,” explains Dunning. “Then I go in for about 10 or 15 minutes at the end to see what they’ve done and then it all goes through the usual laying out and sub-editing processes.”
Source: Young People Now Magazine, (www.ypnmagazine.com)
Annex 4 - Government Policy Initiatives Children and Young People’s Unit (2000) Children and Young People’s Unit Supports cross-government work on child poverty and youth disadvantage and implements and manages the Children's Fund (below). www.cypu.gov.uk Children’s Fund (2000) Children and Young People’s Unit Targets 5-13 year olds - at risk of social exclusion by funding services, which prevent children and families suffering the consequences of poverty. http//www.cypu.gov.uk/corporate/childrensfund/index.cfm Citizenship Education (2002) Department for Education and Skills This became a compulsory part of the National Curriculum in September 2002. The main purpose is to teach young people about their rights and responsibilities in a democratic society and to encourage them to participate in their local community. http://www.dfes.gov.uk/citizenship Community Champions (2002) Department for Education and Skills Set up by the DfES to support the work of local people who want to improve their communities. It gives small grants to individuals to run community projects. http://www.dfes.gov.uk/communitychampions/ The Community Fund (1995) Independent Organisation Distributes lottery money with the aim of improving the quality of life in disadvantaged areas. http://www.community-fund.org.uk Communities that Care (1998) Joseph Rowntree Foundation - Charity A preventative programme designed to tackle the problems young people in disadvantaged areas face, through local organisations. http://www.communitiesthatcare.org.uk Local Network Fund (2000) Children and Young People’s Unit Offers grants to voluntary organisations, which work with young people aged 0-19. http://www.cypu.gov.uk/corporate/Inf/index.cfm Millennium Volunteers (1999) Department for Education and Skills Designed to get young people aged 16-24 involved in their local communities through voluntary projects. http://millenniumvolunteers.gov.uk The National Youth Agency (1992) Funded by the DfES and the LGA Works at all levels to improve and extend youth services and youth work, to increase youth participation in society, and to promote effective youth policy and provision + the youth information web site. www.nya.org.uk and www.youthinformation.com. New Deal for Communities (2001) Neighbourhood Renewal Unit, Office of the Deputy Prime Minister Aims to tackle multiple deprivation in the most disadvantaged neighbourhoods in England, by providing resources to communities so they tackle their problems themselves. http://www.neighbourhood.gov.uk New Deal for Young People (1998) Department for Work and Pensions Part of the governments ‘Welfare to Work Strategy’, helps young people (aged 18-24 years & 25+). http://www.thesite.org.uk/newdeal On Track Programme (1999) Home Office and Children and Young Peoples Unit A long-term crime reduction programme aimed at 4-12 year olds in England. It has the responsibility of developing preventative services for children at risk of getting involved 60
in crime. http://www.cypu.gov.uk/corporate/childrensfund/ontrack.cfm
Annex 5 - Youth organisations Boys’ and Girls’ Welfare Society Supports disabled young people and promotes their education and development www.bgws.org.uk Brathay Brathay use experiences in order to help a young person develop themselves, through nurturing a positive sense of the ‘self’ and a respect for others. http://www.brathay.org.uk British Youth Council - Independent charity Run for and by young people, representing their views to central and local government, political parties, pressure groups and the media www.byc.org.uk Business Dynamics Aims to bring business to life for students and to help their personal development by giving them the chance to develop life skills outside their normal curriculum www.businessdynamics.org.uk Carnegie Young People Initiative Promotes the involvement of young people aged 10-25 in the key decisions that affect them. An independent think-tank, funded primarily by the Carnegie UK Trust, created to push forward policy and practice across the UK and Ireland. www.carnegie-youth.org.uk Centrepoint - National charity For homeless and socially excluded young people www.centrepoint.org.uk Community Education Development Centre - Charity A promoting education and lifelong learning, health improvement and economic and community regeneration. www.cedc.org.uk The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award - Charity Support the social and personal development of young people aged 14-25 through a programme of practical and cultural activities. http://www.theaward.org Fairbridge Offers young people long-term personal support and challenging activities in 13 of the most disadvantaged areas in the UK. www.fairbridge.org.uk National Association of Clubs for Young People Supports 3,000 clubs around the UK. www.nacyp.org.uk National Association of Youth Justice Promote the rights of, and justice for, children. www.nayj.org.uk National Children’s Bureau Promotes the interests and well being of all children and young people across every aspect of their lives www.ncb.org.uk
National Council for Voluntary Youth Services A network of over 150 national voluntary youth organisations and regional and 62
local youth networks www.ncvys.org.uk National Mentoring Network Promote the development of mentoring with advice and support to those wishing to set up or develop mentoring programmes. Provides a forum for the exchange of information and good practice. www.nmn.org.uk NCH - Charity Works with vulnerable children, young people and their families to ensure they reach their full potential. www.nch.org.uk The Prince’s Trust - Charity Offers support and basic financial assistance to disadvantaged young people aged 14-30 years. There are 4 core programmes. http://www.princes-trust.org.uk Trust for the Study of Adolescence TSA believes there is a lack of knowledge and understanding about adolescence and young adulthood. Attempts to close this gap through research, training, publications and influencing policy makers and public opinion. www.tsa.uk.com UK Youth - Charity The largest nationally registered youth work charity in the UK, supports and develops work and educational opportunities for all young people www.ukyouth.org UK Youth Parliament – Independent national charity (Government core funded) The UK Youth Parliament is a national body of democratically elected young people aged from 11 to 18. It ensures that the young people of the UK are given a voice on any issue which affects them as a young person. www.ukyouthparliament.org.uk Votes at 16 Campaign A campaign targeted at Government to lower the public election voting age to 16. Believes that the most effective case for change is to be made by young people themselves. Young people-led organisations are at the heart of the campaign. www.votesat16.org.uk Weston Spirit –National charity Tackles issues of social exclusion through personal development programmes and projects. www.westonspirit.org.uk Whizz-Kidz – National charity Seeks to improve the quality of life and mobility opportunities of disabled children and young people. www.whizz-kidz.org.uk Youth Action Network A national organisation for youth volunteering, enabling thousands of young people to become active in their own time, meet other young people, gain skills, and put into practice their ideas for the benefit of their communities www.youth-action.org.uk Young Enterprise - National education charity Aims to inspire and equip young people to learn and succeed through enterprise. www.young-enterprise.org.uk Youth Hostels Association Part of the International Youth Hostel Federation. Aims to help all, especially 63
those of a limited means, to a greater understanding of the countryside and cities. Promote health, rest and education. www.yha.org.uk YoungMinds – National charity Committed to improving the mental health of all children and young people. www.youngminds.org.uk Youth at Risk Aims to advance the social education of young people who are deemed to be at risk from abuse, substance misuse, criminal activity, poverty, homelessness, unemployment, or illiteracy. www.youthatrisk.org.uk SCOTLAND Girvan Youth Trust A voluntary organisation based in the south west of Scotland, providing opportunities for young people in a social and educational dimension. www.girvanyouthtrust.co.uk. YouthLink Scotland The national youth agency for Scotland www.youthlink.co.uk
WALES Wales Youth Agency A non-departmental public body set up to support the development of services to young people in Wales. www.wya.org.uk
NORTHERN IRELAND Youth Council for Northern Ireland The national body supporting work with children and young people in Northern Ireland www.youthcouncil-ni.org.uk
Annex 6 - 14-19 Pathfinders – Good Practice examples
Fit for Employment Construction and Education Partnership in Durham In 2003, Anne Lakey, Headteacher of Deerness Valley School, and Phil Young, Director of Technical Services at The Esh Group, a construction company, began working together to develop a work-related training programme called ‘Fit for Employment’. Deerness Valley School saw the construction company as the ideal partner to help develop an innovative, collaborative model for 14-19 vocational provision that would meet the needs of all young people. The partnership has since been extended to include a special school, Durham Trinity, an FE provider, New College Durham, and three more County Durham secondary schools. Professional Sports and Education Partnership in Nottingham The City of Nottingham 14-19 Pathfinder has developed a Sport and Education Partnership to address the needs of the sport-related industry, and identify how the professional sports clubs can best support local schools in delivering an ‘alternative curriculum’. The aim of the Partnership is to raise awareness of the wide range of occupational areas connected with the sports industry. Individual Learner Pathways in Wolverhampton The Wolverhampton 14-19 Pathfinder seeks to bring the local learning community together. Its distinctive features are the City-wide Curriculum Framework, and the creation of personalised learning opportunities and progression routes. At post-16, this means a City-wide curriculum offer which is open to students from any institution. Personal Digital Assistant Project at Thomas Adams School, Shropshire As part of Shropshire’s 14-19 Pathfinder, Thomas Adams School has been testing a range of strategies to improve the motivation and achievement of Key Stage 4 pupils. One of these has been to use ‘mobile computing’ to help improve pupils’ organisational skills. Since January 2004, Personal Digital Assistants have been allocated to the school for use by pupils and staff working on the project. Pre-apprenticeship Programme for the Motor Industry, Nottingham Over the last five years, there has been a steady decrease in the number of post-16 students undertaking motor vehicle training within the Nottingham area. This is despite the fact that EMTEC, the United Kingdom’s largest motor vehicle manufacturer and training organisation, is located nearby. To address this issue, the City of Nottingham 14-19 Pathfinder came up with a collaborative approach to engage students earlier between the ages of 14 and 16.
Source DfES, (http://www.dfes.gov.uk/14-19/dsp_1419_goodpractice.cfm?sid=9)
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People aged 50 and above in the Glasgow area Executive summary
The age fifty often marks a turning-point in labour market fortunes. Glasgow presents an extreme example of a city with a large proportion of people aged 50 and above who are out of the labour market for a variety of reasons. At the same time, there is a serious skills shortage in the city. The city is to an large extent polarised between with no qualifications and those with high qualifications and this is reflected in the 50+ age group.
To discover the main reasons for the situation in Glasgow; To examine the role of structure and agency in labour market retention and exit; To suggest ways of retaining older workers in employment.
A statistical survey of the situation of older people of labour market age in Glasgow; An analysis of life history interviews with older people, with a view to discovering personal reasons for either leaving the labour market before state retirement age or staying on; A summary and analysis of existing literature which surveys working conditions for older people and suggests why people leave and what might persuade them to stay in employment.
Older people are by no means a homogeneous group. They differ by sex, ethnicity, nationality, language, sexual orientation, health and disability, educational level, social class, geographical location etc. - in other words, the specific social characteristics which define the population as a whole. Over half both men and women in the fifty-retirement age group are economically inactive but many are not so by choice and the result is often poverty. Reasons for enforced exit include redundancy; ill-health and the benefit trap created by low earning potential: • Older people, especially women, are less likely to have qualifications; but it is men who have most suffered from the effects of structural chance and redundancy and are more likely to be unemployed;
Only a minority of older people are officially unemployed, although of those who are there is a high rate of long-term unemployment; and many withdraw from the labour market or are deemed incapacitated rather than remain on the job register; Older people are more likely to become sick or disabled and this is an important reason for early labour market exit, particularly in the case of manual workers; On average, pay declines with age, rather than older workers becoming more expensive; for lower-skilled workers in particular, the gap between social benefits and wages narrows in later age, thus reducing the incentive to carry on in employment.
There is evidence of age discrimination both against the unemployed and the employed, and older people are less likely to be offered training by employers. Older people are, however, capable of carrying on learning. Some inactive older people, on the other hand, leave the labour market early by choice, principally when they can afford to do so either because of a private pension or a partner's earnings. There is a complex relationship between qualifications and age of retirement: having qualifications makes continuing productively and enjoyably in paid work more likely while at the same time making early retirement financially possible. Health and disability problems are not necessarily a bar to continuing in employment, as long as the type of work undertaken is suitable and the employing organisation is flexible in its approach. There are therefore issues in the retention of older workers still in employment as well as drawing people back into the labour market.
Recommendations to policy-makers, Job Centres, other employment services and vocational guidance services
Age is only one social characteristic and should not be treated as the defining one in terms of employment. Older people should not be deemed less worthy than younger people of assistance back into employment after redundancy: their rights to work and their capabilities should be respected. Older people should be treated as individuals with a complex of social characteristics, and interventions by vocational guidance or employment services should be holistic and person-centred. Those who are unemployed and have insufficient skills to fill existing vacancies should be given appropriate re-training, including work placements, and not given training which does not lead to a job and discourages them from continuing their attempts to find work. Job Rotation schemes for older people, such as the one currently running in Glasgow, should be more widely adopted.
Employment rights should not end at the age of 65 or any other arbitrary age. Assistance with career change and development for employed people should not end on the assumption that no career is possible after entering the fifty to retirement age group.
Recommendations to employers
Employability does not decline with age and older people should not be seen as less valuable than younger people. The serious skills shortages in the United Kingdom can partly be addressed through widening recruitment to include older workers and encouraging existing employees to stay on. This applies to firms of all sizes. Employers with skills shortages should also consider offering work placements to older trainees in collaboration with training providers, Job Centres and vocational guidance services. The Employers' Forum on Age has many examples of the value added to an organisation by the employment and retention of older workers. Employees who are unable to continue in their current jobs for health reasons should be offered the opportunity to retrain for more suitable jobs and Access to Work funding should be sought where necessary. Flexible working patterns can tempt some older workers to remain in employment while pursuing more leisure or caring responsibilities. Current retirement ages set by many employing organisations are arbitrary and do not reflect capacity or willingness to work; and fixed retirement ages should be abolished as they are a waste of often-scarce skills. As long as people are performing effectively, they should be encouraged to stay on.
Introduction: employability and discrimination
The philosophy of employability
'Employability' is NOT informed by the marxist philosophy of 'to each according to his(/her) need, from each according to his(/her) ability' or by the social democratic philosophy that everyone has a right to gainful employment and that full employment is desirable.
Rather, it comes from the liberal idea, based on the ethos of self-help, selfdetermination and responsibility, that, in general, there is a level playing field and it is the responsibility of the individual to make him/herself fit for gainful employment. There is a role for the state (as Adam Smith stated) in providing a safety net for the minority who need it and basic education and health for all. The latter are essential for economic development and employers need an educated healthy workforce. The state is expected to provide people fit to become workers but beyond that to intervene as little as possible.
The notion of the ‘employable’ worker
The concept of ‘employability’ is employer-led, specifically by private sector employer organisations such as the CBI, but it has been taken up as a key concept and policy area, first by the British government and subsequently by the European Commission. In classical economic theory, the raison d’être of profit-making organisations (and increasingly by public-sector organisations under pressure from tax-cutting and expenditure-reducing governments) is to minimise costs. Since the majority of these are staff costs (including training budgets), they prefer new employees to be ‘job-ready’ that is, provided via the state and university education sectors with: basic skills, including literacy and numeracy; transferable skills, including communication, customer handling, teamwork, problemsolving, learning to learn and, increasingly, ICT skills; • and a reasonable level of occupation-specific skills, involving specialised knowledge and abilities. Also desirable are personal attributes including motivation and disciplined attitudes towards work, learnt and demonstrated principally through prior employment. All employers then need to do is to give training in highly specialised skills and in changing technologies and new skill needs. Furthermore, in areas of skills shortage, ‘poaching’ workers from similar firms is a common way of finding qualified recruits. The most employable workers, then, are those who already have jobs and the required skills, particularly in areas of skills shortage, and who can show evidence of having taken responsibility for their own learning1 - and who are thought to be capable of further learning. Since the truly ‘employable’ worker has, among many other talents, ‘learnt how to learn’ in a self-directed way, a minimum need be spent on workforce development. It is also important to remember that SMEs make up the great majority of businesses in any European country, and without some form of training subsidy or co-operative training • •
1 Anecdotal evidence from Open University students and from a survey, Personal, Social and Vocational Outcomes of Learning in the West of Scotland, carried out by the author and published in a series of articles, suggests that at least some employers are impressed by adults who undertake learning on their own account and either hire or promote such a learner. See, for example, P. Clayton and M. Slowey, ‘Toward the ‘flexible’ workforce? Implications for gender and the education and training of adults’, Scottish Journal of Adult and Continuing Education 1996 and ‘Was it worth it? A comparison of the role of adult education and training in the labour market insertion and progress of men and women in the West of Scotland: results of qualitative research’, International Journal of Lifelong Learning 2000.
arrangement it can be difficult for firms to carry out adequate and good-quality training. There are, however, small firms who do this, particular in high-technology industries2.
Discrimination: the business case?
The classical idea that businesses invariably aim to maximise profit is, in fact, compromised in a variety of ways. For example, some appear - to shareholders in particular but also to governments - to seek profit for directors at the expense of the company and its shareholders ; small business owners, on the other hand, may seek autonomy rather than profit maximisation. Greed and independence, then, may be greater values than profit. Nevertheless, profitability, competitiveness and productivity are still the bottom line in many cases and are, indeed, necessary for survival in the private sector. Given the official line on ‘employability’ - that is, that anyone is employable who has all the skills summarised in the previous section - one might not expect it to co-exist with discrimination. Age should be irrelevant provided the person can do the job … especially in a context of near ‘full employment’ (traditionally about two per cent residual unemployment, consisting of people in transition between jobs and the ‘unemployable’, that is, people who either do not wish to work or have great difficulties which prevent them from working) where recruitment poses difficulties for firms in some sectors. So it is necessary to discover why negative discrimination nevertheless exists. There are, arguably, three (at least) factors behind discrimination; prejudice; stereotyped perceptions; and cost (real and perceived). These overlap but I have tried to give examples for each: 1. Prejudice: this includes the idea that people’s value is based on their current age. This idea gives rise to ageism. Hence young people (but not too young) are of more value than old ones ; teenagers are feckless and probably criminal or addicts. 2. Stereotyped perceptions of risk: for example, that older workers can’t learn new things and aren’t worth training or hiring; that young people will be undisciplined and lazy. In other words, some groups pose more risks than others. We should note that there is often some truth in stereotypes, but that these truths are generally the result of self-fulfilling prophecies and misinterpretation (Allport 1979). 3. Cost: since health declines with age, older workers could be more expensive than younger ones in terms of sick leave (though this is not proven). For large firms, there is also the fact that recruitment costs can be very high, so a mistake in recruitment can be expensive - better go for the safe option than test new waters, such as a young person without prior work experience. Hence, the liberal ideology of equal worth and value is rather like Athenian democracy limited to a small section of the population. Outside a particular group (stereotypically, young -but not too young; male - though only in high-status occupations; white; educated - except for the ‘over-qualified’; and middle class), it is not enough that
2 Much of this section is based on a research report by the author, Tremplin, Skills Mismatches and the Role of VET: The United Kingdom National Report, available at http://www.gla.ac.uk/tremplin/BritishReport_en.pdf
individuals are ‘employable’ - they (or advocates on their behalf) have to prove it with much greater effort than is equitable.
Discrimination: the cost
The above does not apply to all employers. Some make positive efforts towards a ‘diverse’ workforce and/or spend considerable resources on training and developing their employees. Others see that there is a good business case for hiring formerly ‘unwanted’ groups. One such group is that of older people (who can be as young as 45 or even 35 in some industries); another is very young people, especially if they have no previous employment. According to the Employers’ Forum on Age, there is a good business case for challenging age stereotypes and assumptions, excluding prejudice from employment decisions, viewing people of different age groups and backgrounds as potential employees and recruiting and promoting solely on merit and potential. Age diversity brings commercial benefits by helping to create a ‘skilled and motivated workforce’ which meets the needs of an age-diverse customer base; by becoming ‘an employer of choice in an increasingly competitive labour market’; and by building ‘its reputation as an ethical and intelligent employer … (which) has been shown to impact favourably on stock-market performance’ (http://www.efa-agediversity.org.uk/what-is.htm). Thus ‘the business case for age diversity is founded on plain common sense. It can help companies adapt successfully to new markets, and keep them aligned with evolving legislation and social trends. Age diversity also counters the threat from a shrinking, ageing workforce, which combines with prejudice to create the kind of skills vacuums seen in this photograph’ (http://www.efa-agediversity.org.uk). One example is B&Q, which staffed one entire store with older workers and found it was the most profitable in the country. They now have a policy of seeking to recruit older workers. Another is the Nationwide Building Society, which abolished the compulsory retirement age and is very satisfied with the results3.
Conclusion: the relationship between employability and discrimination
Despite claims that individuals must be ‘employable’, some individuals are ‘more equal than others’ and many employers are averse to the risk of hiring people from certain sections of the population, through prejudice, stereotyping or fear of risk, especially to profit, competitiveness and productivity. The sub-text to ‘employable’ is ‘normal’ in addition to the other attributes of ‘employability’ such as the possession of a range of skills. In the light of legislation, some already enacted and other forthcoming, intended to combat discrimination in employment, employers will be legally obliged to eliminate
3 For other examples, see http://www.efa.org.uk, the Employers’ Forum on Age. Core members are Barclays Bank, BBC, BT, B&Q, Cabinet Office, Centrica, CIPD, Dept. for Work & Pensions, DfES, GlaxoSmithKline, HSBC Bank, Leeds Met. University, Manpower, Marks & Spencer, Nationwide Building Society, Royal Bank of Scotland Group, Royal Mail, Sainsburys and Shell. It is supported by Age Concern England.
discriminatory practices. Whether they actually do so, and how effectively this can be monitored, are open questions.
There are pressing economic and demographic reasons for the older age group being targeted for increased labour market participation. Europe has an ageing population, because of a combination of a low birth-rate, which means that an increasing proportion of the labour force is falling into the higher age bands, and increased life expectancy. Large numbers of people can now expect to spend at least twenty years of their life economically inactive, following retirement at the age at which they attain the State Pension Age (SPA). This post-retirement period may last for thirty or even forty years for people who are forced out of the labour market before they are eligible for a pension. Yet ‘increased participation of older workers is important if the EU is to create the estimated 15 million jobs needed to fulfil the target agreed at Lisbon of a 70% employment rate by 2010. It is also fundamental to the future sustainability of our economies, in the face of expected reductions in the working age population’ (European Commission 2004). This raises important questions concerning discrimination against older workers, both in and out of employment, and reasons for labour market exit, both before and at SPA, in order to develop policies which will succeed in re-integrating older people and encouraging them to stay longer in employment or self-employment. Three types of methodology were employed in this research: Literature review: summary and analysis of existing literature Quantitative: a summary of statistical data Qualitative: analysis of life history interviews with people aged 50 and above at the time of interview The quantitative part of the research consisted of a statistical report on the labour market position of older (50+) people in Glasgow, based on statistical data supplied by the Office for National Statistics, Labour Market Trends, the New Earnings Survey, the Labour Force Survey and the Local Area Labour Force Survey4. The lower boundary of age 50 is that used in the presentation of these statistics, so it has been used throughout this research, notwithstanding the probability that discrimination against older people begins earlier. The qualitative research consisted of an analysis of previously unused data, from the Learning Outcomes Survey (1993-7) conducted by Maria Slowey and Pamela Clayton of the University of Glasgow in the West of Scotland. Although now rather historic, this provided a useful starting point for forming hypotheses and illuminating the data with the experience of individuals. The sample was drawn from adults who had participated in some kind of learning in the West of Scotland within the previous six years. • • •
4 Note that some statistics refer to the United Kingdom (that is, England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland) whereas others refer only to Great Britain (that is, the United Kingdom excluding Northern Ireland).
A summary of findings from the quantitative data is presented first, followed by the literature review and ending with the main points of the qualitative analysis, where case studies and extracts from interviews illuminate the topic. Finally, some examples of good practice are summarised.
2 Quantitative research: a statistical summary of the labour market situation of people aged 50 and above, with particular reference to Glasgow City
Glasgow City might be expected to be a microcosm of the United Kingdom, or at least of Scotland, in terms of the composition of the labour force. This turned out not to be the case in every respect. The following summary contains data on unemployment rates, earnings, hours worked and qualifications in the United Kingdom as a whole, followed by a short comparison with Scotland and finally by the special features of Glasgow.
2.1 The economic activity of older people in the United Kingdom
In the United Kingdom over the last eighteen or so years employment has been rising and unemployment falling, for both men and women, although at different rates. In March to May 2001 the overall ILO unemployment rate5 was 5 per cent, down from 11.2 per cent in 1986.The ILO unemployment rate of the 50-59/64 group, however, was only 2.9 per cent. The ILO measure is higher than the claimant count and since it covers a period rather than a point in time it is difficult to compare them. From the point of view of analysis by age, however, some useful conclusions can nevertheless be drawn. The claimant count for March 2001 shows that almost one third of people aged fifty to retirement had been claiming for more than twelve months, against an all-age average of 19.7 per cent; the ILO figures are 40.0 per cent and 26.1 per cent respectively (Labour Market Trends January 2002). In other words, once unemployed, older people are more likely than average to become long-term unemployed; and the difference between the claimant count and the ILO figures suggests that for every five people aged fifty and over on Job Seeker’s Allowance there was one more who was ‘economically inactive’ but would like to enter paid work. In Great Britain, the pattern of earnings for full-time female workers, both manual and non-manual, is very similar: there is a tendency for average pay to decline after a certain age and before pensionable age (currently 60 for women). The age at which the likelihood of lower wages begins, however, varies between these groups. For full-time female manual employees the decline begins after the age of twenty-nine. Their income goes from average gross weekly earnings of £244.80 (all aged 21 and over) down to £235.70 for those aged 50-59 and £219.00 for the 60-64 age group. Furthermore, 40 per cent of the 50-59 age group earned less than £200.00 a week. Female non-manual workers’ pay declines from the age of 40, from £432.50 at age 30-39 to £382.30 at age 50-59 and £342.20 at age 60-64. For women working part time, however, the age differences are far less striking and the relative earnings decline begins around 60 years of age.
5 ‘People without a job who were available to start work in the two weeks following their interview and had either looked for work in the four weeks prior to their interview or were waiting to start a job they had already obtained’ (National Statistics web site).
For full-time male manual workers the earnings decline begins after the age of 49. For example, 52.9 per cent of those aged 40-49 earn over £350 per week, compared with 46.2 per cent of those aged 50-59, 33.8 per cent of those aged 60-64 and 14.6 per cent of those over sixty-four. The situation is, however, very different for full-time male nonmanual workers, where those aged 50-59 are likely to earn more than the average, and 19.8 per cent in this age group earn £800 per week or more, compared with an average of 16.5 per cent of all aged twenty-one and over. The best-favoured age group, however, is 40-49, where 21.2 per cent earn £800 per week or more; and there is a fall in average weekly earnings after this age, particularly for the 60-64 age group, where average earnings are almost £120 per week less than those aged 40-49, and a greater percentage than average earn less than £290 per week. All non-manual male agegroups, however, have higher average earnings than do manual workers and all men have higher average earnings than women (New Earnings Survey 2001). The figures for normal basic hours in Great Britain for full-time6 male manual workers show that sixty-one per cent of those still working after the age of sixty-four worked over thirty-nine hours per week, compared with only about thirty-six per cent of the 40-59 age group; and as manual workers in general get older, they are more likely to work longer hours. Non-manual workers, especially those aged sixty and above, follow a similar pattern. Although women on average work fewer hours than men, a similar pattern emerges: age has only a small impact on the number of hours worked by full-time female manual workers and even less by non-manual workers; there appears to be a small reduction of hours by part-time female workers only from the age of 60 (New Earnings Survey 2001). Overall, women in Great Britain are less well qualified than men: more have no qualifications or nothing higher than GCSE A-C passes or equivalent, and fewer have degrees or A levels, although similar percentages of men and women have higher education qualifications below degree level. Since women’s increased entry into higher education and greater school success, which has led to younger women becoming better qualified, older women are even more likely to have no or low qualifications (Labour Force Survey 2002).
2.2 A comparison of Scotland and the rest of the United Kingdom
Economic activity7 rates and employment rates for both men and women are broadly similar in Scotland and the United Kingdom as a whole, though the unemployment rate is higher north of the Border than in England (Office for National Statistics website, UK in figures). Average gross weekly earnings for full-time employees are lower in Scotland but so is the number of hours worked, which accounts for some of the difference. The main differences in number of normal basic hours are found between full-time nonmanual workers, where those in Great Britain as a whole are more likely to work long hours; and female part-time workers, who are, conversely, likely to work longer hours in
6 Part-time male workers are excluded from this part of the analysis in the New Earnings Survey, presumably because their numbers are too small to allow valid analysis of sub-categories. 7 'Those deemed 'economically active' are the employed and self-employed (whether full- or part-time) and unemployed jobseekers. The rest are 'economically inactive' and include students, retired people, those with private incomes, those looking after children or older people or disabled people and those unable to work through illness or disability. Thus economic activity is defined as paid work (or the search for it), as opposed to unpaid work (no matter what the benefit to individuals and society).
Scotland (New Earnings Survey 2001). Overall, however, the Scottish data are close enough to the Great Britain average to use British figures as proxies where more detailed Scottish data is missing or unreliable because of the smaller sample size. Economic activity declines after the age range 35-49 in Scotland. In March to May 2002, 85.4 per cent of that age group were in the labour market, compared with only 67.1 per cent for the fifty to retirement age group (non-seasonally adjusted figures). Furthermore, this constitutes a decline over the previous year. There are, however, differences between men and women. Whereas in the 35-49 age group, 91.4 per cent of males and 79.4 per cent of females were economically active, the gap narrowed considerably for the fifty to retirement group, at 68.1 per cent for males (a decline from the previous year) and 65.7 per cent for females (a small increase). Similarly, between the 35-49 and 50-retirement age groups, the employment rate fell overall from 81.2 per cent to 63.7 per cent; the latter is the lowest rate of any group except those aged 16-17. The fall was much steeper for men (from 86.6 to 63.9 per cent) than for women (from 76.0 to 63.5 per cent), and this resulted in a close similarity in the employment rates of men and women aged fifty to pensionable age. After pensionable age, 7.1 per cent of women and 6.5 per cent of men remained in paid work. Twice as many people as average aged 50+ were long-time unemployed; and of the 666,000 people of working age in Scotland classified as economically inactive in March-May 2002, 230,000 said they wanted a job (Office for National Statistics 2002).
2.3 The economic activity of older people in Glasgow
If Scotland and the United Kingdom as a whole are broadly similar, Glasgow has some very distinctive features. It is the biggest city in Scotland, with an estimated population of 609,370 in 2002. The economic activity rate, however, is markedly lower than the Scottish average, at only 69 per cent of the working age population compared with 78.2 per cent for Scotland as a whole. Of those aged fifty to retirement age, over half of both men (51.1 per cent) and women (58.1 per cent) were economically inactive. Those still economically active were more likely than average to be in part-time employment, though 70.3 per cent were working full time. Those working full time were likely to earn more than the Scottish average. The ILO unemployment rate and claimant counts are higher in Glasgow than the Scottish average; and whereas in the United Kingdom as a whole the 50+ age group has a lower than average claimant count, in Glasgow, against an all-age computerised claimant count of 4.5 per cent in 2000, those aged 50-54 had a rate of 6.10 per cent and those in the 55-59 group of 5.62 per cent (but only 0.66 per cent for men aged 60-64). Glasgow is, of course, a city of many parts, and claimant rates varied between parliamentary constituencies, from 10.5 per cent in Pollok to 1.0 per cent in Kelvin (Local Area Labour Force Survey 2000).
In all there were 72,000 disabled people of working age (both DDA and work-limiting disabled8). This means that almost twenty per cent of the working age population has some measure of disability. Of these, only twelve thousand were economically active and of these three-quarters were employed and one-quarter unemployed, a rate of about two and a half times the general unemployment rate in Glasgow. Seven thousand of these twelve thousand had a work-limiting disability only. There were, therefore, five thousand DDA disabled who were economically active; but the majority were economically inactive (Local Area Labour Force Survey 2000). The figures for disability for Glasgow City are not differentiated by age because of the small sample size, but it is generally the case that older people have a much higher rate of disability than younger ones. In the United Kingdom the rates of receipt of disability benefits in 1999 rose from about 3 per cent for those aged 20-34 to over 17 per cent of those aged 55-59 (OECD n.d.); and 26 per cent of women and 27 per cent of men aged 50 to retirement reported a long-term illness or disability which restricted their daily activities (Office for National Statistics Online, n. d.). In addition, Glasgow has an unfortunate but accurate reputation as a city with an extremely poor health record: it has the lowest life expectancy in the United Kingdom, ten years below the highest for men and 8.1 years below the highest for women (Health Statistics Quarterly 2001). LFS data from March 2000-February 2001 inclusive suggest that Glasgow City had a higher than average rate of working age people with no qualifications, that is, more than the 16.7 per cent average for the United Kingdom as a whole; it was also below the United Kingdom average of 16.7 per cent of working age employees who had received job-related training in the four weeks before their interview. On the other hand, it had a higher proportion than the United Kingdom average (which is 23.2 per cent) of working age people qualified to level 4 (first degree level) (Office for National Statistics 2001). The Local Area Labour Force Survey (2000) found that ninety-three thousand persons of working age (24.60 per cent) were likely to have no qualifications, and only forty-four thousand of these were economically active,. Thus about a quarter of those of working age and about seventeen per cent of the Glasgow labour force had no qualifications; about sixty per cent of the latter were women. Complete figures are not available because of sample size; but it appears that of the 76,000 people without qualifications, those aged 50 to retirement made up over twofifths. Of those in the labour market, 28 per cent in this age group had no qualifications. Eighty per cent of people of working age were not participating in adult learning, whether taught or untaught. More men (147,000) than women (138,000) of working age were non-participants. The samples were too small to allow analysis by age; but six thousand persons aged fifty and over were reported as participating in taught adult learning only, and 182,000 were not participating in any adult learning (Local Area Labour Force Survey 2000). There are no reliable figures for those with NVQ1-3 with regard to all in this age group; but at the other end of the qualification scale, nine thousand (nearly twelve per cent) of working age and six thousand (nearly seventeen per cent) of those in the labour market had first degrees or above. To the extent that occupation, education and class are related, it is likely that those in the labour market without qualifications are working predominantly in low-skilled, low-class occupations or
8 DDA disabled are those who are deemed eligible for disability benefit; those with work-limiting disability are deemed unfit for certain kinds of work.
are unemployed, whereas the qualified are more likely to be in high-paid, high-status middle-class jobs.
3 Selected literature: older people in and out of the United Kingdom labour market
3.1 Unemployment and economic inactivity in later years
The issue of unemployment in later years has been noted for some years. For example, the Family and Working Lives Survey focused on the employment and family histories of a sample of around 11,000 people. The analysis suggested that the age of fifty often marked a turning point. In particular, manual workers, always at greatest risk of unemployment, suffered increased worklessness from this age on and fewer than half returned to paid work (McKay & Middleton 1998). Once unemployed, it appears that older people have difficulty re-entering employment; and after two years of unemployment the chances are very small (Hirsch 2003, p. 22). A major reason for this is discrimination by employers against older unemployed workers and many become discouraged: perhaps for every ten people aged fifty or more registered unemployed there are twenty-five who have withdrawn from the labour market for this reason (Ford 1996). A Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) survey found that about half of those now retired had done so voluntarily; but about two-thirds, particularly men, reported that they had been forced out, principally by ill-health or redundancy (Humphrey et al. 2003, p. 4). State services such as JobCentre Plus (including New Deal 50 Plus) and Employment Zones have had some success in assisting older unemployed people back towards paid work, but have made insufficient impact on those who are not claiming benefits (Moss & Arrowsmith 2003, p. 10). A certain proportion of those who are economically inactive will never have been in the labour market, either through illness and disability, caring responsibilities, other constraints or free choice: one in eight of this age group, mainly women, had been out of the labour market for a very long time or had never worked (Humphrey et al. 2003, p. 9). Nevertheless, the majority of men and large numbers of women do have a labour market history. Despite the continued existence of unemployment, albeit at five per cent (Labour Force Survey 2003), which is low by European Union levels, there are labour shortages. These result from a mixture of demographic change, greater numbers of young people continuing in education after the minimum school leaving age (sixteen in the United Kingdom) and structural change in the economy. More specifically, however, there are skills shortages. At least four types of skill can be defined: key skills; occupationspecific skills, involving specialised knowledge and abilities; basic skills, including literacy; and personal attributes, covering a wide range of characteristics, such as motivation. The CBI Employment Trends Survey (CBI 2001) found that 39% of those surveyed said that skill shortages had a significant or severe impact on business
performance. Small Enterprises appear to have the worst skill shortages and many are worried by, inter alia, a shortage of skilled workers (Stanworth 2001). Skills in short supply include technical skills at associate professional level but also ‘people skills’ such as customer care. Similar shortages are found in a range of European countries. Yet when employers with recruitment problems were asked if they thought early retirement should be discouraged very few agreed and it was unusual to find recruitment policies which included people aged over 45 (Spence & Kelly 2003). In most occupations there is little practical reason for this neglect. Older people do suffer a decline (which starts from the mid-30s) in ‘hearing, vision, lung capacity, muscular-skeletal strength, processing-speed and memory’ but at the same time comprehension and knowledge improve (Age Concern Policy Unit 2004, p. 22); and this means that in occupations involving continuous paced data processing, rapid learning and heavy lifting become less suitable. In skilled manual work, undemanding work and knowledge-based work without extreme time pressure, however, either experience counteracts lost capacity or no capacity is lost. Thus, people over 50 are as productive as people aged 25-49 over a range of occupations from operative to senior managerial. Furthermore, reports from firms which have become ‘champions’ of older people in work and from the Employers’ Forum on Age (EFA) state that where more older people are employed there is less absenteeism; less short-term sickness absence and no more overall absence through sickness than younger people; more commitment to the job; improved customer relations because of better social skills and social awareness; and higher retention (Brown 2000). For example, the Nationwide Building Society reports that turnover is only 4% among older employees compared with 10% among younger ones and widening the recruitment age saved £7 million in staff turnover costs. In addition there is the opportunity for the informal mentoring of young employees (Third Age Employment Network 2002; Age Concern Policy Unit 2004). Except in a minority of occupations, then, there is no reason why people who wish to should not continue working up to and beyond the SPA, and there may be a good business case for trying to persuade employees to do so. Some older workers, however, will not be persuaded while others may demand change in working practices, as the next section shows.
3.2 Who leaves early, who stays on and why?
‘Older people’ are not a homogeneous group, but sub-divided by gender, age, education, work experience, ethnicity, health, family situation, geographical location, personality and wishes in relation to types of job and hours of work. Similarly, the vulnerability of older people to early (forced) exit from paid work varies according to, inter alia, education, qualifications, country and region, sex, sector, the Normal Retiring Age (NRA) set by the employer (and which may be below the SPA) and the attitudes of individual employers. For example, the public sector is more ‘age-friendly’ than the private sector, though there are, as stated above, examples of private companies taking steps to retain older workers. Women without partners are more likely than those with to be constrained by financial reasons from leaving early, irrespective of qualifications (Mckay & Smeaton 2003).
3.2.1 The role of qualifications
Qualifications and types of job have been shown to affect the timing of labour market exit but the patterns are not straightforward. Clearly a good occupational pension which can be drawn pre-SPA, significant amounts of savings or a tempting voluntary redundancy package make it possible for more highly-qualified workers to choose to leave paid work early. This is very rarely the case for low-qualified workers. So, as might be expected, people planning to retire early tend to be highly-educated professionals, those on high incomes, in sedentary jobs and with private pensions. This was also the profile of many who did retire pre-SPA (Humphrey et al. 2003). Another factor in this decision is the retirement of a partner (Hirsch 2003). Qualified people with good occupational pensions are likely to leave in order to enjoy more leisure time, with their partner, for example, rather than feeling pushed out (Humphrey et al. 2003).
3.2.2 Leisure and caring responsibilities
In some cases ‘leisure’ might not be the appropriate term. One quarter of families have their children looked after by grandparents (of course, these are not necessarily aged 50+) for an average of almost fifteen hours a week and three million people over the age of 50 are carers (Age Concern Policy Unit 2004). In some cases workers do not wish to or need to give up their jobs completely for these reasons; rather they wish to work fewer hours or more flexibly (Hirsch 2003). For those, however, who can afford to leave but have no pressing necessity to do so, attitude to leisure is an important factor, but so is attitude to work. This may partly explain why, despite the foregoing, those with qualifications are much more likely to work longer than those without. Of men aged 50-SPA in employment, two-thirds were, in descending order of numbers, skilled tradesmen, managers, professionals and associate professionals (Labour Force Survey 2003): in other words, in jobs with the potential, inter alia, to offer satisfaction and a measure of autonomy.
One salient factor, whatever the level of qualification, is health. It is no surprise to find that, the older people get, the more likely they are to become ill. This appears to accelerate for men from the age of fifty, whereas the pattern for women is of a more uniform decline in health (General Household Survey 1997). Those working post-SPA were likely to be in good to excellent health. A good number (18.0% of men and 19.7% of women) were working on in elementary occupations requiring some physical stamina (McKay & Smeaton 2003). This tends to imply that poor health or disability forces out many who would otherwise have continued working from choice. Another factor is the health of the partner (Hirsch 2003). Overall, in the DWP survey, about half of those aged 50-SPA cited some health problems and a similar proportion of those who had retired early - particularly those who had retired very early - had done so because of ill health. Of those of labour market age but not in paid work, 43 per cent were long-term sick or disabled. Of those who said that they would like to have a job, the great majority felt that their health would prevent them from doing
so. Most, however, felt their health precluded them from working and this was probably a factor in their claims that they did not wish to work (Humphrey et al. 2003). Although health is an important factor in early exit, substantial numbers continue to work despite at least some degree of health problems or disability. Humphrey et al. found that 19 per cent (about the same proportions of men and women) of those aged 50-SPA reporting such problems were in work (2003, p. 137).
Health service usage suggests class differences in health. Employed managerial and professional men aged 50-59 were only one-third as likely as economically inactive professional and managerial men and one quarter as likely as economically inactive unskilled men and women to visit their doctor, and were much more likely than the other groups to report that their general health was good. For women the main difference is between skilled and unskilled women. Overall, there is a hierarchy in health, with the employed feeling the most healthy, followed by a sharp drop to the unemployed and a further drop to the economically inactive (General Household Survey 1997). Within each category, however, there are class differences. For example, economically inactive former professional workers were three times as likely to report good health as economically inactive former manual workers (British Household Panel Study 1998). That class plays a part is also suggested by English figures suggesting that 'decreasing life expectancy is associated with increasing deprivation', particularly for men (Health Statistics Quarterly 2001). As noted in the statistical summary, Glasgow has a particularly poor health record. Reasons given for this range from unemployment, poverty, deprivation, stress arising from a changing labour market and industrial base, to choice of unhealthy lifestyle, notably through smoking, alcohol and a diet high in saturated fat, or a combination of these factors.
3.2.5 Discrimination in employment
There are different aspects to discrimination, both open and effective. Open discrimination occurs when there is a fixed retirement age (NRA). This is sometimes well below the SPA and is based on the idea that certain jobs (e.g. flying planes) can no longer be done after a certain fixed age, irrespective of the health of the individuals concerned. In other cases people may be pressured into taking early retirement as a way of shedding labour or replacing them with younger, cheaper workers. Effective, if unofficial, discrimination is evident from the well-documented facts that older people have poorer than average access to jobs on being made redundant or returning to the labour market after a break; to good-quality, well-paid or satisfying jobs; to in-service training or re-qualification; to apprenticeships; or to career development support. Some feel unappreciated by their employers or are not offered more flexible working patterns where this would enable retention. Hirsch (2003) cites as one reason for early exit that work had become more pressurised and some had grown to hate their jobs. Furthermore, state policy, or lack of it, effectively contributes to the poor labour market position of older people. There is legislation which prohibits employment rights after the age of 65 (this has been challenged by an Industrial Tribunal); which allows good redundancy terms to be offered to employees aged fifty; and which prevents employees
continuing to work part-time while simultaneously drawing an occupational pension from the same employer. In addition, employers face problems obtaining liability insurance for people beyond SPA. Some employers stereotype older people as being more expensive in terms of salary and as unable to learn or re-train. A 2002 study on early labour market exit by Barnes discovered that some left early because of perceptions of age discrimination in the workplace (Hirsch, 2003). Hence some who might wish to continue beyond normal retiring age (NRA) are not allowed to do so, for a variety of reasons, some practical but others based on stereotyped notions of the capability of older people. Not only may older people be prevented from staying on, they are excluded from the means which would facilitate this. In order to enter or stay in the labour market, it is necessary for everyone, including older people, to improve and update their skills and competences. In some cases, further training, re-training for a different position or a change in working hours can assist an older worker to stay in employment. The main discrimination in training provision in certain countries, however, is on the grounds of age. For example, in 2001 in the United Kingdom only 23 per cent of older employed people had received training in the previous thirteen weeks compared with forty per cent of those aged 16-24 and thirty per cent of those aged 25-49 (Harrop, 2004, p. 23). The National Health Service faces a severe shortage of nurses and is trying to attract older and former employees - yet it has done little to retain them in the first place by retraining or giving the option of physically lighter work (Hirsch 2003). A European survey found that the amount of vocational training undertaken by employees declined with age, and especially training that was helpful for career progression; and yet older workers were more likely than younger ones to state that they needed training in certain aspects of their work, such as using a computer, though less likely to express a wish for training in being well-organised, imaginative and dealing with the public (Spence & Kelly 2003). It is significant that employees selected for interview by employers in the Glasgow survey (see below) did not include any over fifty. This does not necessarily mean that older employees received no training; but it does not contradict the documented tendency for employers to focus training on younger people. There is in addition a gender issue: in some cases older women find it harder to access vocational training than older men and older women are more likely than older men to be out of the labour market or in insecure employment. Hence, employers are often not prepared to invest in skills training for their older employees, especially the less-skilled, and encourage them to take responsibility for their own learning. This appears to be a Europe-wide phenomenon: training is undertaken by 2% of unskilled workers over 55 but by 10% with degrees in the same age group (Directorate-General for Employment and Social Affairs 2003). Thus unskilled workers, in an era of rapid technological change, are more at risk of dismissal, perhaps in the guise of early retirement. Instead employers still focus training opportunities on younger workers, in the mistaken belief that they will stay with the organisation longer than will older workers (Hirsch 2003, p. 13). Not all older people, however, desire training or retraining. Some may see it as ‘going back to school’, feel ‘too old to learn’ or think they are incapable of doing another kind of job (Ford et al 2003). Older people have poor access to vocational guidance and
counselling, particularly that which is suitable for their needs - guidance for older adults remains seriously under-developed in the majority of European member states, as the recent OECD career guidance policy review demonstrates (OECD 2003). One survey found that four-fifths of employees think that they need advice in order to manage their careers but only 13% felt that the advice they received, usually from line managers with little or no training in this area, had any value, and very little of it concerned job transition. In particular, ‘career development for older workers is not a priority issue … there is a very passive view of managing this segment of the workforce’ (cited in the Third Age Employment Network 2003, p. 6). Nevertheless, the lesson from McKay and Smeaton’s (2003) survey of post-SPA workers appears to be that firms which can retain workers up to SPA have a chance of retaining them post-SPA, at least for a few years, if they find their jobs satisfying and remain in good health. According to the DWP survey, the higher their qualifications the more people were likely to carry on working. There is, therefore, an opportunity for employers to retain those with the most confidence to continue learning. The great majority overall worked full time, though only slightly over half the women did. Four-fifths were satisfied or very satisfied with their jobs (Humphrey et al. 2003, p. 30-34). Of those who intended to continue at least until they received their state pension, the commonest reason was financial, such as the need to build up savings or pension fund, but a strong reason was enjoyment in their work, followed by the perception that work would keep them fit and active. Women were more likely than men to cite financial reasons but almost as many women as men cited enjoyment of working or of their jobs (ibid., p. 57).
4 Qualitative research: Older people and the labour market: the real lives behind the statistics
The quantitative data shows that people aged 50 and above in the United Kingdom are less likely than average to be unemployed, although those who are have a much higher chance of becoming long-term unemployed, and some ‘disappear’ off the unemployment register, even though a certain proportion state that they still wish to work. Currently more problematic than unemployment is the fall in earnings from well before retirement, which has negative effects on savings and pensions. This affects both men and women, full-time and part-time, manual and non-manual, but women’s pay on average declines before that of men. The data on hours worked shows little sign of work-life balance improving with age. Glasgow differs from the United Kingdom and even from the rest of Scotland in certain respects, and there is evidence of a split personality: higher earnings and shorter hours (for some) but higher unemployment and more economic inactivity; more highlyqualified people and more people without any qualifications. People aged 50 + are less than 50 per cent likely to be in the labour market; and they are more likely than average to work part-time, which may suggest an attempt at a more congenial work-life balance, or may arise from greater availability of part-time work;
There is a high rate of disability; and people aged fifty and above make up a significant proportion of those without qualifications, who in turn are more likely to be working class. It is, therefore, difficult to disentangle age from disability and class when researching older age discrimination. Some of these issues were addressed by a qualitative study, based on life-history interviews, was carried out in the late 1990s, of adults in or originating from Glasgow, aged fifty and over, who had participated in adult education and training within five years of the interview (this was part of a larger survey). They were selected from five sources: adult continuing education; community education; the Adults in Schools programme; access courses for higher education entry; and employers. The sample was drawn in a variety of ways depending on the kind of learning involved: The Open Programme of the Department of Adult and Continuing Education, University of Scotland - a random sample of all students participating in a single year; Access programmes of the Department of Adult and Continuing Education, University of Scotland - all students registered on two successive years; Access programmes under the Scottish Wider Access Partnership - all students who had subsequently entered the University of Glasgow in a single year; Adults in Schools programme: all students who completed this programme in six schools in a single year; Community-based programmes: all students who completed Community Education Open University courses in a single year in one area; and all students who completed Workers’ Educational Association courses in a single year in one area; Employees: these were selected by four large employers on the basis of having undertaken training in the previous five years. A letter was sent to all students whose names were drawn. Life history interviews, which were recorded and transcribed verbatim, were carried out with those who agreed to participate. The interview schedule can be found in the Appendix. Of the 105 interviewees, thirty-three were aged fifty or over. Those over retirement age are included to show at what age they left work – or in one case went part time. Most, but not all, were living in the City of Glasgow. Some were incomers, others were former residents who had migrated to towns close by. The extensive and intensive nature of the interviews yielded very rich qualitative data which allows tentative conclusions to be reached as a basis for further reflection and research. It must be noted, however, that their participation in formal learning, which was the basis of their selection, is not typical of this age-group. Furthermore, some interviewees had participated in more than one type of adult learning, ranging from community education classes to degree studies. This adds diversity to the group surveyed, in particular in encompassing a range of class positions and levels of educational attainment.
Since the set is not representative of the age group in general (because of their participation in adult learning9) the following figures are descriptive and not amenable to statistical analysis or direct comparison with the statistical outline cited above (although in fact there is a reasonable fit between the quantitative data and the qualitative sample). Another limitation of the data is that the interviews were carried out between 1996 and 2000, when unemployment was much higher than it is now. The picture painted of the reasons for both unemployment and economic inactivity, however, is almost certainly still valid today and the purpose here is to draw on qualitative research to illuminate the labour market situation of people aged fifty and over in the Glasgow area. Out of this group, eight out of the fourteen men and fourteen of the nineteen women were below the official retirement age, or about two-thirds overall. Of these below retirement age: • Nine were economically inactive; • Three were unemployed; • Two, both men, were employed full time; • Eight, all women, were employed part time. Of those above retirement age: • Nine were economically inactive; One of the economically inactive had been long-term unemployed before reaching retirement age; • One man over retirement age was still working part-time (although not at an onerous job); • One woman over retirement age was still working full time. They have been divided for this analysis into six groups: 1. those who appear to be excluded from the labour market; 2. those who left early on health grounds; 3. those who left early, apparently by choice; 4. those who stayed on or returned despite health problems; 5. those still working from choice; 6. those still in work but not necessarily by choice. Pseudonyms have been used in all cases. The number in brackets by each name refers to the order of interview in the whole survey (total 106).
9 See The Labour Market Situation Of People Aged 50 And Above In Glasgow City: Statistical Summary which found that only a small number of people in this age group were recorded as engaged in taught adult learning.
4.1 Being excluded – four case studies
The four case studies here are of three unemployed men in their fifties and one woman who had been unemployed from her fifties but was now retired. They are the most detailed of the case studies since they suggest age discrimination. All four had been adversely affected by structural change and other factors outwith their control: the decline in heavy industry and in unskilled work; the rise in interest rates; the restructuring of the National Health Service; the general rise in unemployment. Neither initial qualifications nor substantial adult learning, re-training and qualifications had saved them from the dole. It cannot be said that they had chosen to be unemployed and the three men, who were still of working age, were either working in a voluntary capacity or actively seeking work. From the financial point of view all would have been better off had they been employed. In all four cases, discrimination on the grounds of age is discernible, but Robert seems to have been the only one to internalise the idea that he was of less value because he was older. They were, effectively, all excluded from the labour market. 4.1.1 Case study one John (no. 13) was married with two school-age children and his wife was in full-time employment as a clerical assistant. He had no health problems. His father and uncles had been coal miners, like their father before them. The family lived in a single end10 until, after the third child was born, they were moved to a modern three-bedroom council house. His mother had returned in her late forties to the knitwear factory which she had left when starting a family. His father had been determined that his sons should not follow him down the pit but should take up skilled trades, and all four boys completed apprenticeships. John became an apprentice fitter/turner with an engineering firm and obtained an Ordinary National Certificate (ONC) in Mechanical Engineering when he was twenty. Two years later, he went into the Merchant Navy for seven years, before leaving to get married. He worked as an engineer in one firm (rising to junior management level) until he was forty-five, when he was made redundant. Having been continuously employed since leaving school until he was forty-five, he became a victim of the steep decline in the Glasgow engineering industry. He was sent on a Manpower Services fifty-week training course in instrumentation. Having been told they would get work placements at the end of it, the trainees discovered shortly before the course ended that there were no placements available because there were no longer any jobs in the industry. Coming from a family which had customarily been in employment and valued vocational education, he tried to re-skill in order to find secure employment. He saw an advertisement in a local paper for SWAP (Scottish Widening Access Partnership)11 courses and embarked on one when he was forty-six. Following this he began a teaching degree. At the same time, he took and passed Higher English at night school, since this was essential for teaching. However, he had to abandon his university course after one year because of the steep rise in interest rates:
10 One room, with an outside toilet. 11 Scottish Widening Access Partnership. Students took ScotVec modules full-time for a year and on successful completion were guaranteed a university place.
' Finances - that was just a simple - mortgage to pay, bills to pay. I had a loan from the bank ... this was arranged a few years before that, and we managed to come to an arrangement with the bank to pay this loan off, at so much. Then just about that Easter, we got a letter off the bank saying "Circumstances have changed, the rates have gone up, we want money from you." Well, it was just physically impossible, and we were quite upset and annoyed and it was a case then I was starting to haunt the Job Centres again …' With a family to help support, he felt he had no choice but to leave university to seek work again. Fortunately he got another job and was able to pay off the bank loan; but when he was fifty-one, the firm went bankrupt. On his second redundancy, he invested in two new skills. He took a basic welding certificate 'just to take my skills up' and then, having seen an advertisement in the paper for bus drivers, used some of his small amount of redundancy money to obtain his Public Carrying Vehicle Licence. He then worked as a bus driver in a small firm for eighteen months but suspected he would be laid off in the winter, so took a temporary technician's job with the City Council, hoping it would be permanent. In the event it lasted six months and John had been unemployed for the last seven months before the interview. He was now fifty-three years old and his family was being supported by his unemployment benefit and his wife's earnings. John did not mention age discrimination in the interview, but it is probable that his age, despite his skills, experience, qualifications and motivation both to learn and work, was a factor in his inability to find secure employment again. 4.1.2 Case study two Jim (no. 41) was married with one dependent child. His wife worked part-time in a factory and their only child was on a Youth Training Scheme. They lived in social housing in an area with a high deprivation index. He had no health problems. He came from a family that worked either in the shipyard or in related industries. His father had been a skilled shipyard worker and his mother had worked in a mill. All Jim's brothers had done apprenticeships, but he had left school without qualifications and started work as a milk-boy. He had been almost continuously employed since that time but had no qualifications or specialised skills, never had formal workplace training and served no apprenticeship. He worked in a variety of jobs, mainly unskilled or semiskilled, and often on a casual basis, including postman, Forestry Commission worker, factory operative in England, company store man and building site work. Some jobs, especially those on building sites, lasted only a week or a fortnight. During one period of unemployment, when he was twenty-seven, he took part in a government Training Scheme. His longest-lasting job was as a plater in the shipyard; but 'when you reach a certain age people don't want to employ you!' When asked about his current employment situation, he answered that he had no job, 'Because I cannae get one! … the age barrier.' Shortly after his last job he became a member, and subsequently chairman, of a voluntary association. Although unpaid, this had become almost a full-time job and it involved a lot of training and CPD12. Having had bad experiences at primary school and attended a secondary school at a time when only 'really really clever' pupils took formal exams, the thought of formal learning had been frightening until his first course,
12 Continuous professional development - in this case, changing legislation means frequent study for the volunteers who run credit unions.
provided by the WEA13. He had since taken a business course for community workers and was now a computer user and taking a course in Desk Top Publishing. He hoped to have further training, requiring both new and higher-level skills. A shy man ('I was a very shy wee person'), he was now confident at public speaking (and was about to give a radio interview). His work involved managerial and supervisory skills and he was also happy to do any tasks that needed to be done. Since becoming unemployed he had obtained a range of new skills and much greater confidence in himself both as a person and as a learner. Despite feeling that he was discriminated against because of his age, he was still optimistic: 'Hopefully I thought all these sort of things might have led to a paid job, but it didn't ... no' yet, I've still got time! … I'm not going to say I'm totally ambitious but if anything came along that I thought I could dae I would apply for it, I would go for it ... That wouldnae have been the case before. I'd have just sat back and let the others go ahead. It makes you ruthless!' In the meantime his voluntary work was essential; without it, he said, 'Id be lost'. His reasons for doing it were 'because work is the normal thing to do', he enjoyed working, he believed in the philosophy of the type of voluntary work he did and above all for the company of other people. He had last worked when he was forty-four. At the time of the interview he was fifty-four years old and had been unemployed and working as a volunteer for nine years. His family was supported by his unemployment benefit and his wife's earnings. In an area of high unemployment and few jobs, it would seem unlikely that he would now obtain a job despite proving his potential in voluntary work, but he was certainly motivated to do so - if the opportunity arose. Financial considerations were not particularly important as his wife had no trouble getting well-paid factory work and they were both accustomed to living on a modest income. Indeed, his wife (who was also interviewed) had been brought up in extreme poverty. 4.1.3 Case study three Robert (no. 61) had never left the parental home nor got married. He now lived alone in social housing, which he had taken over when his parents died. His brother, who had also remained in the family home, had died a few years earlier. He was financially responsible only for himself. Three years earlier Robert had lost the hearing in one ear but did not regard this as seriously limiting what he could do. He came from a family which had been employed in mining 'from way back' and his father had 'never missed his work', so the family was financially stable. His mother was a part-time waitress and had also done many other kinds of work. They lived in a terraced house in a skilled working-class neighbourhood. He had passed the qualifying exam to take up a free place in a fee-paying school but since all his school mates were going to the local grammar school, his parents decided he should not take up his place.
13 Workers' Educational Association
He liked the school at first but from the third year found it 'terrible … like a prison … I dreaded going into it' and his grades nose-dived. Nevertheless he obtained his Scottish Leaving Certificate but left at the age of fifteen. He became an apprentice with British Rail and six years later completed his City & Guilds in Electric Welding. Six years later, however, he moved to work-study, completing City & Guilds when he was thirty and working in this field for a further six or seven years. Unfortunately, the Beeching cuts began after he joined British Rail and as the industry contracted he moved around different parts and was made redundant five times. He had two other employers in his work life. He worked as an operative in a whisky bond; and as a meter reader for the Water Board. The latter involved four thirteen-week contracts, followed by being paid off for a week and then re-hired. This lasted for three years and then the post was abolished. He was now fifty. Thus, he had been employed almost continuously, but increasingly precariously, first in an industry which was undergoing major cuts and then on a series of fixed-term contracts. While he was still working in the railway, his father had told him to give up his job and offered to pay for him to further his education, but Robert had felt that, at twenty-three, he was too old. At the age of fifty, bored with being unemployed, he went to the local high school's evening classes and took ordinary grade arithmetic and a basic computing module. He then saw an advertisement for SWAP courses and thought it might be interesting and useful, and would fill the time. He then went on to take a university degree, which included mathematics, statistics, psychology, Scottish history and philosophy. He was now fifty-five and described himself as ‘addicted to learning’. The degree he took was ‘non-vocational’ in that it was not focused on a particular occupation. He did not find paid work, despite a tutor on the SWAP course telling the class that 'if you finish a degree course, any graduate that's not got a job in six months is not looking for work' (this was reported by John). 'I can’t get a job at all ... They’re not interested. I think it’s - age has something to do with it but, having said that, I just - I’ve never even had an interview, not even the courtesy of - it doesnae matter, that’s how it goes.' He later said that he saw employers' point of view: 'If I was an employer, somebody came in at thirty years of age and I came in - we both had the same - I mean, I wouldnae employ me either, because whoever’s thirty or whatever age you are, you’re that wee bit quicker and you’re gonna get you should still be able to find something ... That’s the name of the game, I’m afraid, you know.' He felt that he had in any case, always been 'backward at putting myself forward' and that now: 'the trouble with me is, I’ve no' got the energy I had when I was thirty, say ... I wouldnae fight with five or six people to get a job. If they were younger and all the rest of it, I’d say, "Well, carry on, I’ll wait to see if there’s anything left." I’m not going to fall with the competitive - I went through all that, I’m not interested, you know.' In addition, he was not motivated towards any particular kind of work: 'even to this day I don’t know what I want to do. You see these people that are fourteen, fifteen and they know exactly where they’re going? I’ve never been like that ... '
Thus he described himself as diffident, non-competitive and lacking direction. At the time of the interview Robert was fifty-six and had been out of the labour market for six years. Since completing his degree course he had been unemployed for one year. He was existing on a very low income from income support and doing voluntary work tutoring in literacy and numeracy. He did not expect ever to be employed again because of his age and seemed to be resigned to this. Adult education and voluntary work now substituted for paid employment. 4.1.4 Case study four Dorothy (no. 48) was sixty, retired and living with her husband who was on invalidity benefit. She came from a very poor working-class family and left school at fifteen with the Junior Leaving Certificate. Her parents valued education and the children were clever but the family could not really afford for the children to stay on at school, and in any case she was intimidated by the thought: ‘I had visions of going to the High School, you know, and not being able to get the right sort of gym slip because we were poor.’ Her first job was in a factory and then, after some time working in shops, she had become a nurse. She had spent only four years away from work while looking after her children and gained the British Tuberculosis Association Certificate. She did not, however, complete her State Registration because it was possible to get promotion without it and ‘Again it was money, it's always money!’ Through the influence of her husband, however, she had taken cases at Newbattle Abbey, a residential college for adults. Eventually, when she was fifty-five, the unit in which she worked had closed: ‘It was an awful sad thing that [the unit] went. I felt sad ... because it was a part of my life, you know. It was a big part, you know. So that was that ...’ She then took Highers through the Adults in Schools Programme, and the effect had been to feel that: ‘even when you're older and you know that you've lived two thirds of your life, and your working life's over, there's still sometimes in your imagination, and you think I wonder so-and-so, and you're fifty-odd ... I could go back to work, this sort of thing.’ She had not, however, found work and remained unemployed until she reached retirement age. She now had angina and there was no longer any possibility - or desire - to return to work.
4.2 Early exit on health grounds – eight case studies
Out of the twenty-two of labour market age, five (two men and three women) had illnesses or disabilities which limited what they could do and were out of the labour market. Three others (two men and one woman) were now beyond retirement age but had left early on health grounds. These cases will be examined, in order to look behind the statistics on illness and disability. Of the case studies, one is hard to interpret for shortage of information: the man from a middle-class background, who had retired from teaching on health grounds, appeared to have made a full recovery from whatever had earned him early retirement. Perhaps he had been suffering from work-related stress. All had continued working up to and in some cases beyond the onset of their illnesses, until forced to retire through inability to continue in work. None had been unemployed when leaving the labour market on health grounds, so they do not fall into the category of the older unemployed who ‘vanish’ from the figures through being re-assigned to invalidity.
Most of them, however, continued to have active mental lives, taking part in adult education and leisure activities. Given different kinds of employment, ‘mental’ rather than manual, some might, and probably would, have continued working longer, perhaps part-time. 4.2.1 Case study five Peter (no. 12) came from a middle-class family and had taken a degree and a teaching diploma. He had been a junior secondary school teacher who, having reached the position of Assistant Head, retired at the age of fifty-six on the grounds of ill health. When asked early in the interview, however, if he had any limiting illnesses or disabilities, he had said that apart from 'a sore hip and backache - a drawback from time to time, but not serious' he had none, and indeed his main hobby now was bowling. His wife had returned to work full time and their family income, including his retirement pension, was high. They owned their house outright. He was now sixty-three and enjoying a full and active early retirement. Whatever the health problem had been that had caused his early retirement seems to have proved temporary. 4.2.2 Case study six Andrew (no. 24) came from a working-class family and had left school at fourteen; but he had acquired a variety of qualifications up to Higher level through adult and continuing education at different times of his life, including the time after leaving the labour market. He had had a lung complaint and was awarded a ninety per cent army disability pension once he had been able to prove that the tuberculosis he had contracted while doing National Service had been provoked by the condition of the barracks. He had gone on to have a wide variety of jobs, including shop owner, roofer, telecommunications wire man, building labourer, vehicle body repairing and assistant branch manager of a newspaper. He estimated that he had had at least twenty-four jobs. When he was widowed, he left work to care for his fourteen-year-old daughter but then returned again. At the age of fifty-five, however, he developed a heart condition and was declared medically unfit for work. . I sort of, tried to figure out what had caused the heart problem. I basically put it down to the lung problem but at the same time I think that stress could affect the heart ... so possibly a combination of the pressure and the previous medical history resulted in the heart problem. But I definitely felt under pressure. Thanks to his army pension on top of his disability allowance, he had a moderately good income and a full social life. He lived in social housing and was now sixty-four. 4.2.3 Case study seven Duncan (no. 71) was sixty-eight, retired and living in social housing on a very low income caring for his wife, who was seriously ill. He came from a poor working-class family which lived in a room and kitchen plus wash-house. His parents were uneducated but keen on their children 'getting on', and his three siblings had done well in life. He himself, however, had had scarlet fever at the age of seven and never fully recovered the use of his legs after hospitalisation. He also developed chorea and psoriasis, and from having been popular at school he became a victim of bullying. He also developed arthritis.
I've got arthritis ... It incapacitated me at the age of about 59, but it's always been present, ever since I had scarlet fever, at the age of 7. He left school at fourteen but he had begun work at the age of eleven, delivering bread and newspapers. He continued as an errand-boy until his father got him a job as a plater's helper in an unhealthy environment. After a chest infection so serious that he almost died, he was left with chronic bronchitis. Subsequently he worked as a waiter, a drover, a fireman on the railway and a door-to-door insurance salesman (which he left after about four years suffering from stress). His last job was as a self-employed window-cleaner, which lasted about twenty-four years (with occasional absences because of his arthritis), until he had fallen and broken his arm, which failed to heal properly. As his arthritis was worsening, he could no longer get customer liability insurance. He retired at the age of fifty-eight. He had attended community education classes on nutrition in order better to care for his sick wife. He had no qualifications. 4.2.4 Case study eight Alex (no. 34) was now eighty-one years old, widowed and living on a comfortable income in a house he owned outright. He was brought up in a working-class family but because his mother was a successful dressmaker they were not poor. He obtained Highers even though he left school at fifteen. My mother made my father promise that I would not be made a tradesman like he had been, and I would go on to Highers, which he did respect ... but I couldn't afford to go to university, nor was I very anxious to go to university. He was unemployed for almost a year because he was looking for a job which interested him (‘I could have had a job in a bank but I didn't like the idea of a bank’) but then joined a large firm as an office-boy and was soon being trained for the relatively new profession of advertising. During the 1939-45 war he was a navigator and bombaimer in the RAF. He returned to the same firm and rose to international advertising manager, taking professional qualifications. He had a serious heart attack when he was fifty-five and retired at the age of fifty-nine on a generous company pension. He now had arthritis but swimming and adult education kept him alive and fit. 4.2.5 Case study nine Carol (no. 1) was fifty-two years old. She came from a 'working-class and poor' family living in a single end house. She had won a bursary to a grammar school but ‘finances didn’t allow me to take it up.’ She had been obliged for financial reasons to leave school at fifteen without qualifications. She later took two school-level qualifications in vocational subjects. She had been employed first in the army, then in the hotel trade and latterly as an auxiliary nurse. She had had osteo-arthritis since six years before the interview and was sometimes unable to leave the house for long periods. Two years after the start of her illness, at the age of forty-eight, she had left her job and suffered depression. She had attended courses in order to keep her mind active and develop new skills, aims which she achieved, and also found that typing was good exercise for her fingers. This took her out of her depression. She now lived alone (she had never married) in social housing on a small income from social benefits. 4.2.6 Case study ten Moira (no. 49) was brought up in a room and kitchen with an outside toilet. She had left school at fifteen, without qualifications, for financial reasons:
Apparently the headmistress sent for my mother and told her I was an imbecile because I was clever and I wouldn't stay. I'd really had enough ... My mother needed the money, for me to go to work, you know. So I left school on Friday and started work on Monday, in a place that I had no say in. She worked in various factories until she married. She had last worked full-time for a large retailer. She had injured her back at home at the age of forty and her condition was then aggravated by caring for her elderly parents. Her job involved some heavy work and after nineteen years with the same firm she had to retire at the age of fifty-two on the grounds of ill health. She loved her work and admired her last employer, which, she felt, and been very good to her. She had not, however, been offered special training so that she could transfer to a sedentary job, which subsequent involvement in adult education shows that she could have done. Because I had no other skills I didn't really know what else I could do ... I would not have left work. I intended to work until I'd done my 25 years … I've gone through a period of depression because it's a big adjustment. I've worked all my life at something. She now had arthritis and spondylosis. She lived with her husband and daughter in a house they were buying through a mortgage and received a disability allowance. She was now fifty-five and her condition was worsening. 4.2.7 Case study eleven Pat (no. 31) was fifty-eight. From a working-class family, she had left school at fifteen for financial reasons, without qualifications: My mother was set on my making money, and big money, ‘you're no living here for nothing, you know’ ... she just wanted the money, and I wanted money. I wasnae learned any better, you know, it was just a case of go till you're 15 and then you get out and start earning money. Before marrying she had worked in sewing factories; she left work to raise her family and when the children went to school she worked in an electronics factory. She had had chronic bronchitis for many years but this did not prevent her working. Realising that redundancy was on the horizon, she decided to gain some qualifications. I thought, I'll no’ get a job anywhere, I've no qualifications ... so a year before leaving I took night classes in Hamilton Academic, trying to get some O levels ... I thought to get a job I only needed two basics ... arithmetic and English ... She did not use her O levels, however, but when the factory closed she worked parttime in a shop until she damaged her back in an accident at home and was unable to carry heavy weights. This was her last employment; she was forty-six. Her husband had been bedridden with a spinal disease since he was twenty-eight and her son (who still lived at home) was unemployed. They lived in social housing. Shortly before the interview she had had a heart attack, followed by depression until she had a triple bypass. She had now resumed her hobby, creative writing. 4.2.8 Case study twelve Norma (no. 65) was sixty-one, living in a former council house they owned outright with her husband, who was on invalidity benefit following a heart attack, and her son, who was employed. She was brought up in a poor working-class family in a miner's row but her mother was a good manager and there was always food on the table. She left school without qualifications at fifteen, for financial reasons and became a machinist for
the rest of her career, with about six years away when her children were small. After a mastectomy she was put on Valium for seven years and when it was abruptly withdrawn she had severe withdrawal symptoms and had suffered depression to varying degrees ever since. She continued working and attending community education classes for some time with the help of her work-mates and would have continued working up to retirement, given the choice: ‘I would have worked - I did work. I worked right up until, and I don't know how I went, the doctor said it was just because I've always been in the habit of getting up and going to work, but I was really ill and I didn't even realise I was at work. It was - I worked wi' my cousin and a friend … I asked later on and they say I just sat there and worked. I don't remember it. [Would you have continued work without the depression?] I would have, aye.’ She finally had to leave work at the age of fifty-four.
4.3 Early exit through choice? - seven case studies
In two cases, Douglas and Sarah, the decision to leave the labour market was freely taken; in the cases of Sandra, Maureen and Liz, however, gender clearly played a role in forming what might have appeared to be a free choice. Douglas had always planned to retire early and being constrained to advance his retirement by one year merely meant that he could fulfil his ambition of going to university sooner. His early departure from the labour market was a matter of free choice. This appears to have been Sarah’s case, too - she retired only one year before the ‘official’ retirement age for women, after a continuous career (she had no children) and on a reasonable income. Whatever Sandra’s early ambitions, she left her job on starting a family, in a period where this was expected of women whose husbands’ incomes could support the family. Once the family was grown, she had no financial incentive to return to the labour market. There is a hint that she might have lost confidence in her abilities. It appears, however, that she had no regrets. Nevertheless, had she been a man, it is likely that her life would have been very different. Similarly, it is possible that, had Maureen fulfilled her ambition of becoming a teacher, she might have wanted to stay in the labour market; but even if she had not been forced out of her job on marriage it is likely that she would have had to leave to become a carer. Essentially, her exit, and the permanence of that exit, was due to her sex - men did not lose their jobs on marriage and it is women who are expected to be carers. Liz had had a working life shaped around children, and although she had returned to employment, she found it hard to combine with childcare. Later she returned again but found that she preferred voluntary work to the kind of low-skilled work that she was now qualified to do. Another constraint was the ‘benefit trap’: she was unlikely to earn enough to compensate for the loss of benefits that would result. The cases of Anne and James are hard to classify. Anne had returned to education hoping to get a job but had not succeeded and called herself both unemployed and a housewife. Although she had long-term illness this did not prevent her working. James had left work early on ‘medical grounds’ because he could no longer carry on with the kind of work he did, but he appears to have been happy with this.
4.3.1 Case study thirteen Douglas (no. 89) had been a farmer. He was from a wealthy middle-class background and left public school at seventeen with Highers to go on to agricultural college. At the age of sixty-three he had had a serious heart attack and a bypass operation, but the only limitation he perceived was that he had to take things more slowly. Before that, however, he had already retired, at fifty-nine. I had been at university for either one or two years and then I had actually meant to retire when I was sixty. I had one man on the farm and he decided to leave and (…) it was going to be difficult to train somebody when I was at University most of the time ... So that brought it forward a year. So he rented out the land that he owned and fulfilled a long-term ambition to obtain a university degree. He was now sixty-four, living with his wife on a very comfortable income and enjoying a busy retirement taking adult education courses and pursuing leisure activities. 4.3.2 Case study fourteen Sarah (no. 08) was sixty-eight, a widow living by herself in a house she owned outright, on a fairly comfortable income and in good health. She was brought up in a workingclass family, but unusually lived in a private house owned by her maternal grandfather. She went to university, paying for her fees, books and so on by working and saving money by living at home. After graduating she took a primary teaching certificate and worked as a teacher, continuing after her marriage (she had no children) and ending up as a headmistress. When she was asked about her early retirement she answered, ‘Oh it wasn’t all that early, I was 58’, and her response to the question whether she had continued with part-time work was very definite: ‘No way!’ There is no doubt that she left voluntarily after a very successful career and was now living comfortably on a pension and taking adult education courses. 4.3.3 Case study fifteen Sandra (no. 16) was from a middle-class background but finances had been a problem until her mother was able to take on paid work and send her daughter to private school. She had taken a degree in medicine and her main job had been as an assistant lecturer in a university. She had left on starting a family at the age of twenty-seven. Now fiftyone, she was in comfortable circumstances and her husband earned a good income. She had no limiting health problems and enjoyed a range of pastimes. Her account of going back to school, however, held a few points of interest. She had taken a course as an 'intellectual exercise, to see if I could still do it.' To her surprise, she had found that when you get older you can learn more quickly and easily - you learn in a different way. It's not true that you need to learn at an earlier age, and I don’t agree that you learn more slowly when you’re older. Now that she had discovered she was still capable of learning, she had no plans to take further courses and no need to return to paid work. 4.3.4 Case study sixteen Maureen (no. 40) was from a poor working-class family which valued education to the extent of paying for private tuition for their daughter. Afraid that she would fail her exams and unwilling to see her mother continue working in an unpleasant job, she had left school at fifteen, to her parents’ disappointment. She worked in an office until she
was married at the age of twenty-three, upon which she was forced to leave work by her employer. Fortunately she was happy about this as she had really wanted to be a teacher but had had a crisis of confidence and left school without taking the leaving exam. She had no children but had spent most of her life nursing elderly relatives. By the time the last one died she found it difficult to leave the house (though she had now got past this phobia) and as she said, 'at the end of it you're left wondering what you've been doing, and it's a bit late to pick up'. Her husband had a comfortable income, they lived in a charming house which they owned outright and she neither wanted nor needed a job; but she put a lot of time into a hobby involving research. She was now fifty-six. 4.3.5 Case study seventeen Liz (no. 79) was fifty-eight , living in social housing on a low income with her full-time employed son and unemployed husband. She had no limiting health problems. Her husband had had a good career but had been unemployed since being made redundant several years earlier. He had had the possibility of work in London but they decided that he had already spent too much time away from his family. Her father had died when she was twelve and the family survived through their mother working part-time as a waitress and 'food-wise, everybody looked after everybody else in the area'. Luckily they lived rent-free thanks to the generosity of the local large employer. She had left grammar school before the official school leaving age (then fourteen) after being bullied by a teacher who mocked her for not having school uniform. She first went into nursing but left when she married. After her first child was born she returned to nursing for a year but when she became pregnant again, she found it too difficult to combine employment with caring for her family so she decided to become a full-time housewife. Later she worked as a shop assistant for about eighteen months but did not like it and 'went back into the house', apart from occasional crèche work. Although now free to take a job she felt that she would not be able to earn enough to compensate for the loss of benefits. In any case, I enjoy being able to do voluntary work, and up until now I haven't really needed to work … though, like everybody else, you could do with money. 4.3.6 Case study eighteen Anne (no. 14) was fifty-nine , living with her husband and two of their adult children. She had long-term health problems, including mild epilepsy, which limited her daily activities. She came from a poor working-class family and although she liked school she had not done well. She had left school at seventeen but without qualifications and subsequently obtained a range of qualifications as an adult, of which the highest was a Higher National Diploma. Her first job was as a trainee nurse but she had to leave because of her epilepsy, and then worked as a clerk until she was twenty-two, when her first child was born. She spent several years looking after her children full time, but found it hard to say because she did part-time work as a shop assistant at times: ‘I have always looked after my own children, there were no nurseries provided for us.’ She had taken an English Higher as an adult to develop my knowledge and to give me confidence, knowing I had achieved something and I would stand a better chance of getting employment. She did not, however, get a job after completing the course, and said she would like to take a degree.
4.3.7 Case study nineteen James (no. 86) was sixty-seven and was living with his wife on a fairly low income. Both had retired. From a working-class background, he had left school at fourteen and acquired some academic qualifications as an adult. Although he did not report any current sickness or disability, he had been retired sick at the age of fifty-nine: I retired seven years early. I left through sickness, I couldn’t do my work. I worked in roofs at the time with glass, I was a glazier, so because of that it was mutual agreement and I just left, I left early. They call it sickness retirement but it means a mutual agreement to leave because you can’t do the work. He had worked with the company for about forty years. He was spending his retirement reading and learning: I can intensely read for hours and hours and weeks and weeks and never get tired. My health is better than it’s ever been and yet I’m coming to the end of my life, so it’s a very strange paradox.
4.4 Staying on or returning despite illness – four case studies
Three (all women) reporting sickness/disability were working part-time or irregularly. All three women worked principally for enjoyment and liked their jobs very much. Two, both doctors, were able to continue with their original careers but in reduced roles, one in a lower position and the other as a locum. Despite this change, both were happy to be able to work. Both were very interested in adult education and attended a large number of classes. Independent of their work they had high incomes, one from a pension and the other through her husband. The third had changed career, from factory work to working with children, a move that had been greatly helped by adult education. One (a man) had left work through sickness but was now working again. All were physically mobile and mentally active, and their illnesses were limiting rather than disabling to the extent that they were unable to work. All very much enjoyed their work. Nevertheless, all had had to make changes from their original careers in order to continue working and all were working fewer hours and earning less than before. The most difficult situation was that of the woman with long-term mental illness, as this kind of disablement is stigmatised. She had found it very difficult to find paid work but had finally succeeded, albeit for only a few hours a week. Adult education had been important to all of them, either as a way of keeping mentally active and meeting other people, or, in the case of the crèche worker, as a way of acquiring the necessary qualifications. For the man it had done more: it had re-integrated him into the labour market in a different, and very satisfying, career. 4.4.1 Case study twenty Mary (no. 78) was fifty-seven. She lived with her husband, who was on invalidity benefit after a thrombosis and two industrial accidents in social housing. She came from a working-class family. She left school as soon as she could, despite the school recommending her for college and her parents’ agreement, and worked as a full-time machinist in a variety of factories, except for ten years when she was bringing up her children. At this time, she said, I used to feel guilty going oot ... It's a terrible thing, that, feeling guilty because you do what you want.
At the age of forty-two she had returned to education and over the next fourteen years obtained certificates in childcare and training for trainers. She suffered from angina and arthritis but found the latter more limiting. She was in receipt of invalidity benefit but had returned to paid part-time crèche work after working as a volunteer for ten years. The reasons she worked were for the company of other people and because she loved ‘working with kids’. 4.4.2 Case study twenty-one Martha (no. 33) was fifty-five. She had a long-term mental illness and had also suffered cancer and depression but had overcome these. She was able to work as long as she avoided too much stress. She was from a middle-class family, attended private school and then went to university where she qualified as a doctor. At the peak of her career she was director of a clinic. Before and after her cancer she had carried out voluntary work until she found her present job. This had proved very difficult, but she was now working a few hours a week in medicine. She was in a position far below her qualifications and experience, but loved her job: Oh I love it, I absolutely love it, it's wonderful. Magnificent ... because the patient is in crisis and there's no beating about the bush really, and they relate to you very closely and you relate to them very closely. It's a very satisfying - you can make it a very satisfying time for yourself ... I try to make them enjoy their visits, and I usually manage to do that! She worked principally because she enjoyed it but also because it gave her status. She had not married and lived alone in a property that she owned outright. Her income was high and included an occupational pension. 4.4.3 Case study twenty-two Marion (no. 56) was also a doctor, aged fifty. She had acquired a disability which at times made it difficult for her to use hands. This had made her depressed at one time. She came from a middle-class family but with occasional financial difficulties. She was sent on a scholarship to private school and then took a medical degree. She left fulltime work when she had her first child but had spent only a few months looking after her children full time and had always taken part-time or sessional work as a doctor. For the last nine years she had been working as a locum, which she enjoyed: I like it all, yes - because I don't have the rubbish to do. I don't have any of the administration - I can just see patients, which is, I think, people would love to do that and not have to worry about the paperwork, counting the figures or ... I don't get very much money for it - that's the downside! I would actually do it for nothing, although I'm not telling them that! Enjoyment of her work was her principal reason for working, though she also liked the company of other people and felt that it enabled her to follow her career. She lived on a high income with her husband, also a doctor, and two school-age children. 4.4.4 Case study twenty-three Jack (no. 7) was sixty-three. From a poor working-class family, he had left school at fourteen and took no school qualifications until he left work as a clerk at the age of fiftyfive following heart surgery. He had then taken Highers, a degree and a teaching certificate, and was now following a second career as a teacher, which he greatly enjoyed. He felt that adult education had given him
self-confidence leading to new contacts - greater scope in job search (…) It has opened up new avenues and I no longer feel that age should be a restraint. His main reason for working was to follow his career but he also enjoyed working and the company of other people. He lived with his wife on a fairly good income.
4.5 Happy workers – five case studies
The case studies in this section are of people, in good health, who worked up to or beyond SPA or who were below that age but, like those who were working despite illness or disability, were happy in their work. All had acquired some kind of qualification for their work, via initial or continuing education. Two had changed career in middle age. By the time of interview, one man was already retired but had continued until SPA and a retired woman had worked until well past the SPA, partly, but not entirely, from a sense of duty. Both had worked full time up to retirement. Three were still working, principally because they enjoyed work and the work environment. One of these was sixty-two, selfemployed and working full time, and the other was seventy, working a few hours a week for his old employer. One woman was fifty-one and was working again, part time, after a gap of many years. All loved, or had loved their jobs, and only the man who retired at SPA had pressing financial reasons for continuing to work in addition to enjoying the job. The two working part time, however, would not have worked if their jobs were full time. 4.5.1 Case study twenty-four Tom (no. 10) was seventy-eight, living with his wife. His family of origin was workingclass but both parents worked so they were not poor. He had attended a Senior Secondary School until the age of seventeen but left before Highers to take up an apprenticeship. He had ended up as assistant works manager and took qualifications in supervisory management. His factory closed down when he was fifty-two, an age at which many men are considered ‘unemployable’. I applied to the National Savings, because they were recruiting at the time, and before I had an interview there I was asked to go for an interview to the Department of Employment, I presume because of the engineering record I had, and the supervisory record. Starting as a clerical officer as a Higher Executive Officer, he finally retired at the compulsory retirement age of sixty-five. 4.5.2 Case study twenty-five David (no. 38) was a self-employed professional aged sixty-two. He was married with school-age children and had no health problems, although he had been ‘a sickly child’. He was from a middle-class family, not rich but without financial problems and was still living in the house that his father had had built. He had attended grammar school and left with Highers. He first became an apprentice and subsequently took professional qualifications and eventually had his own firm (without employees). He had income from savings as well as from his work, his wife was also a professional and the household income was high. He was continuing to work, partly to pay for basic essentials but principally because he enjoyed it.
4.5.3 Case study twenty-six Paul (no. 29) was seventy and living with his wife, who was retired. Although he had had health problems as a child he had none now. He was from a middle-class but not wealthy family and through his mother’s efforts was able to stay at school until sixteen and gained his GCE. He started work as a clerk and after some time took professional qualifications which enabled him to gain a series of jobs of increasing status until his last firm, where he stayed for almost twenty years. He officially retired at sixty-five but was still working part time (five hours a week) for the same firm for a small honorarium. The job I have now - I like it as an interest, it keeps me in touch with my former world ... I do quite like it, there's no doubt about it ... if I hated it I'd simply go into the boss and say I think you'd better get somebody else to do this. His main reason for continuing working was to keep in touch with his former full-time work; and he now combined work with non-vocational courses. 4.5.4 Case study twenty-seven Frances (no. 66) was fifty-one , living with her husband and one dependent child in a house they owned outright. Her father was a skilled man and her mother worked part time so the family was not badly off. She had left school at fifteen without qualifications and worked as a clerk until the first of her children was born. She had returned to work in her mid-forties as a sessional tutor, after twenty-four years ‘in the house’. This had unexpectedly arisen as a result of her taking community education courses: They put me on the right road towards it, then I was trained through them, they paid for it, community education ... for the training. She was working on average two hours per week and she liked all aspects of her job. Her main reason for working was enjoyment, but she also valued the company of other people and earning a little money of her own: It's quite nice to have some extra spending money at times ... But as I've never wanted to go out to work, I mean, it's quite nice always having a wee bit extra … and I’ve made a lot of friends through it. 4.5.5 Case study twenty-eight Helen (no. 50) was a widow of seventy-six and now retired, living alone on a good income; but she had worked full time in the health sector until she was sixty-nine. She was from a middle-class but not rich background and had received a bursary for her university medical studies. She had spent very little time away from work looking after her four children full time, because she and her husband had been able to employ a fulltime housekeeper. Well, one had to work, unless one had no conscience ... and I didn't really receive any what you might call stated salary, but I'd to help out for at least three months at the mine, what with alcoholism and so on, because my husband was in charge of that district ... Once the children were older she had worked full time. She still did a little work on a voluntary basis. She had continued working out of enjoyment and not from economic necessity.
4.6 Struggling on? – five case studies
This title refers to people whose principal reasons for paid work were instrumental or conditioned, and with enjoyment low in their list of reasons. Interviewees were given a choice of reasons for continuing in paid work: working is the normal thing to do; work for basic necessities; to earn money to buy extras; for money of my own; for the company of other people; enjoy working; to follow my career; or any other reason. They were asked to choose all the reasons which applied and then select the most important. One, a graduate, was working in a responsible job in her husband’s business. She earned very little of her own money for working long hours and liked part of her job, but was generally suffering from low self-esteem and a lowering of confidence. She enjoyed having a little money of her own but felt that she had to work, whatever the job was, because this was what one did. The other three had left school at fifteen with no qualifications. Their main reasons for working was to earn money for basic essentials. Two had unemployed husbands, the third was divorced and responsible for a daughter. They did not necessarily dislike their work but their reasons for working were mainly instrumental - they worked because they had to, either because they felt they must or because they needed the money. 4.6.1 Case study twenty-nine Claire (no. 57) was fifty, living with her husband and one dependent child. She came from ‘very decent’ working-class parents and her father had attended university and obtained a good job which enabled them to move to a wealthy area. Claire had been sent to private school and then took a degree. She worked until her first child was born. When she had completed her family, her husband started up a business and she became his employee, working from home and receiving a very low salary for 25-30 hours a week: This of course was their tremendous opportunity to - get me stuck behind a computer ... I get paid by them ... so I'm an employee ... my salary's so small I don't pay tax. This had been her job for the past ten years. When asked how she felt about her job, she said: ‘I dislike parts of it! I hate some parts and I like other parts.’ Her main reason for doing paid work was because ‘working is the normal thing to do’. She also liked earning a little money of her own, enjoyed working in general (though not always in her job) and in addition because I don't think I would get through life very well unless I was under pressure ... and if I wasn't under pressure I think I would just go to the dogs ... because otherwise you'd have time to worry … So - that's what keeps you healthy ... I think it does, because it forces you to do - I mean on days when you don't feel too great, once you actually get started it's amazing how you just get on with it, whereas if you were lying here peeling grapes you wouldn't - ... it also gives structure to your life. It also gives you a self-respect. Although she did not express dissatisfaction directly, towards the end of the interview she said, I think by the time you reach my age your self-esteem is so low that it can't get much lower! I don't think any number of classes is going to improve it, is it?! ... I think everybody has [low self-esteem]. I think the older you get - you always imagine in your twenties by the time you're aged - well, I suppose you imagine
that at fifty you're not going to have anything really, so past it, you don't appreciate that your confidence can decrease ... Outside her work she did voluntary work as well as housework; nevertheless the interviewer’s impression was that she was on the edge of depression. 4.6.2 Case study thirty Rose (no. 42) was fifty-one and lived with her unemployed husband and daughter. She had a chronic lung complaint but it did not stop her doing anything she wished to do. Her father was from a middle-class family but had fallen on hard times and the family had lived in poverty and suffered stigmatisation because of it. She left school without qualifications at fifteen and took a series of semi-skilled jobs: I've never been unemployed. Since I left school I've always worked ... I've had hundreds of jobs! She had spent twenty years working full time but was now working part time (twentyone hours) in a factory and earning more money than she had full time. She had hated her present job at first but was quite enjoying it since she had gained confidence in the task. Her income was not high but was adequate to meet her only reason for paid work, namely to earn money for basic necessities. The work that gave her satisfaction was her voluntary work. 4.6.3 Case study thirty-one Alison (no. 32) was fifty-two, living with her unemployed husband (he had been made redundant after twenty-five years in the same job when his company failed to win a contract) and two non-dependent children in full-time education. She came from a middle-class but not wealthy family and left school at fifteen without qualifications. She began work straightaway as a financial secretary and subsequently acquired some vocational qualifications. After time out to look after her children she had returned to the same kind of job until made redundant. She had then gone round the agencies and now had been working part time and on a low salary for the past few months in a call centre and described her job as ‘okay - it was terribly tense to begin with, to put it mildly!’ Although one of her reasons for doing paid work was that she enjoyed working the principal reason was to buy basic essentials. When asked if she was thinking of taking up any further courses, she answered, My challenge is surviving, I think, just now! … I'm just looking for a job and someone pays me, that's all. 4.6.4 Case study thirty-two Agnes (no. 30) was sixty, divorced and living with her daughter. Both were working full time and they lived in a house tied to Agnes’ job. She came from a working-class family and left school at fifteen without qualifications. Her first job was as a shop assistant. She then went into nursing but did not complete her training because she married and started a family. After that she returned to education and gained some school and university qualifications. She had progressed more slowly than she wished because her husband had refused to let her attend class more than one evening a week - so full-time education was out of the question. She had been with her present employer for over ten years and liked her job very much, although it could be stressful: I like my job very much but I hate when they die ... that has got harder as time has gone by ... I've got one lady in the home who's very very ill. It's breaking my heart, but I think we're going to have to ask for her to be taken into hospital ... her
stepdaughter is beginning to crack, and although I'll do my best, I can't sit in her flat all day. That's a real problem. Her main reason for doing paid work was to earn money for basic essentials but she also had needed a home for her daughter who was a small child when her marriage broke up. She was now focusing on finding a home for when her job ended. 4.6.5 Case study thirty-three Dougal (no. 53) was sixty-nine, widowed, and living alone and in good health on a reasonably good income. He came from a fairly poor background and although he was encouraged to do well at school it was normal to leave at the school leaving age and get a job, eventually ending up in a large company. A few years before he was due to retire, his firm was taken over and the employees, irrespective of age [which is unusual], were obliged to participate in a lot of courses. Staying in the job depended on accepting the training. For Dougal, however, it added little to his knowledge and in addition it was a burden: I'd seen an awful lot of it before ... because my wife was ill, when I was away on a course I was worried all the time. Furthermore, he felt that ‘training had a negative effect on friendship - too busy getting ahead’. He had worked until he was sixty-five, for financial reasons, and shortly after that his wife died before they could enjoy much leisure time together. He decided to attend liberal education classes since ‘I suddenly have a very very slow life’ and, for the first time, he was able to choose what he learnt: ‘the most enjoyable of all is learning just to suit yourself’.
Examples of good practice
There is an increasing number of employers realising that there is a good business case for hiring older workers, and the examples here are only a few of many. The first of these supports both employers and older workers. 1. Glasgow has instituted a 50+ Job Rotation scheme, funded by the European Social Fund and run by Glasgow City Council and Strathclyde University. This is aimed at small businesses in the private and voluntary sectors and the goals are to increase the skills and confidence of existing older workers, help retain them and give older unemployed workers and returners work experience. First a training needs assessment and training plan are developed with the company, and mentoring is also provided. Next a Job Rotation Trainee, aged 50+ and previously unemployed or a labour market returner, undergoes relevant vocational training and a personal development programme. Finally, in return for releasing a minimum of four members of staff aged 50+ for training provided free by the scheme, the firm takes on the Trainee for a minimum six-month contract of at least 25 hours at the going rate for the job. The job must be additional to the existing workforce. A £50 per week wage subsidy is also provided under the scheme. The kinds of training provided to employees and trainees includes IT, customer service, key skills and personal development (50+ Challenge). 2. Employers such as the Nationwide Building Society and Marks and Spencer have ended the mandatory retirement age.
3. HBoS (Halifax/Bank of Scotland) has a flexible approach to retirement: people can take career breaks and opt to work beyond retirement age (though the take-up for the latter is very low so far). 4. A Scottish food production company with over 100 employees had better fortune in retaining its workers. Older workers are offered year-on-year extensions beyond the SPA, doing either the same or a different job according to preference. The company now has three employers aged 70+ (information at the ‘Recruitment, Retention and Retirement: age diversity in employment’ seminar, Strathclyde University, 20 May 2003). 5. Sage Ltd, Kent and Medway, with 3,000 employees, ensures that all staff and not just younger members have access to personal development planning (Ford et al. 2003). 6. Peckham and Rye, a Glasgow-based small chain of delicatessens, found that there was a high turnover amongst young workers starting their jobs with low-paid, lowskilled warehouse work. Supported by funding from Scottish Enterprise Glasgow, they recruited older unemployed people who, it was thought, would have the patience to stay long enough to acquire knowledge and skills, and offered jobs with training to NVQ2 in warehousing. Staff turnover has declined significantly and the work teams, which now include a good number of people aged 40+, are working more efficiently and are happy to take up further training opportunities (Brown 2000). 7. An employee of nearly forty years’ standing of a music shop in Glasgow became ill. In order to retain his skills and experience the manager consulted him and the employee chose to reduce his hours to a manageable level. This is working well and he hopes to return gradually to full-time work (Fair Play n. d.). 8. New Deal 50 Plus is a state initiative to help older people into work through enhancing their employability. To be eligible, a person must be aged 50 or over and have been receiving any one or more of certain benefits for at least 6 months (details are available on the web at www.newdeal.gov.uk/newdeal.asp?DealID=50PLU). Those who join the programme get their own New Deal personal adviser whose job is to get to know them and the kind of work they would like to do; assist in drawing up an action plan, jobsearch, the preparation of cvs and applications, and organising training or voluntary work; and offer ongoing support and reassurance. Those who obtain work for over 16 hours a week can apply for the Working Tax Credit at a higher than usual rate for the first 52 weeks in employment. It is also possible to apply for an in-work Training Grant of up to £1,500 on obtaining a job through New Deal 50 plus. It is claimed that 'thousands of people' have been helped back into work through this programme (www.agepositive.gov.uk/newdeal.cfm?sectionid=78).
Conclusions: older people in the Glasgow City labour market
The quantitative data shows that people aged 50 and above in the United Kingdom are less likely than average to be unemployed, although those who are have a much higher chance of becoming long-term unemployed, and some ‘disappear’ off the unemployment register, even though a certain proportion state that they still wish to work. Currently more problematic than unemployment is the fall in earnings from well before retirement, which has negative effects on savings and pensions. This affects both men and women, full-time and part-time, manual and non-manual, but women’s pay on average declines before that of men. The data on hours worked shows little sign of work-life balance improving with age. Glasgow differs from the United Kingdom and even from the rest of Scotland in certain respects, and there is evidence of a split personality: higher earnings and shorter hours (for some) but higher unemployment and more economic inactivity; more highlyqualified people and more people without any qualifications. People aged 50 + are less than 50 per cent likely to be in the labour market; they are more likely than average to work part-time, which may suggest attempt at a more congenial work-life balance, or may arise from greater availability of part-time work; There is a high rate of disability; and people aged 50 and above make up a significant proportion of those without qualifications, who in turn are more likely to be working class. It is, therefore, difficult to disentangle age from disability and class when researching older age discrimination.
Bibliography: Age discrimination in the United Kingdom labour market
Age Concern Policy Unit (2004), The Economy and Older People, London: Age Concern England Allport, G. W. (1979), The Nature of Prejudice, Cambridge, Mass.: Perseus Books British Household Panel Study 1998, ESRC Research Centre for Micro-Social Change, (www.sosig.ac.uk) Brown, R. (2000), Getting Old and Grey? Glasgow and Inverness: Futureskills Scotland, Scottish Enterprise and Highlands and Islands Enterprise CBI (2001), Employment Trends Survey. London: Confederation of British Industry. Directorate-General for Employment and Social Affairs (2003), Employment in Europe 2003: Recent Trends and Prospects Employers’ Forum on Age, www.efa.org.uk European Commission (2004), Press release, P/04/295, Brussels, 3 March 2004 Fair Play (n. d.), Take the Time for a Work-Life Strategy, Glasgow: Fair Play (www.fairplayscotland.com) Ford, G. (1996), Career Guidance for the Third Age: mapping exercise and issues. Cambridge: CRAC/NICEC Ford, G., Watkins, B., Bosley, S., Hawthorn, R., McGowan, B. and Grattan, P. (2003), Challenging Age: information, advice and guidance for older age groups, Sheffield: Department for Education and Skills General Household Survey 1997, Office for National Statistics (www.statistics.gov.uk) Harrop, A. (2004), The Economy and Older People, Age Concern England, Report Health Statistics Quarterly, Spring 2001, Office for National Statistics (www.statistics.gov.uk) Hirsch, D. (2003), ‘Crossroads after 50’, Foundations: analysis informing change December 2003, Joseph Rowntree Foundation Humphrey, A., Costigan, P., Pickering, K., Stratford, N. and Barnes, M. (2003), Factors Affecting the Labour Market Participation of Older Workers, DWP Research Report 200 Labour Force Survey 2002, Office for National Statistics (www.nomisweb.co.uk) Labour Force Survey October-December 2003, Office for National Statistics (www.nomisweb.co.uk)
Labour Market Trends January 2002, Office for National Statistics (www.statistics.gov.uk) Local Area Labour Force Survey 2000, Office for National Statistics, (www.statistics.gov.uk/llfs) McKay, S. & Middleton, S. (1998), Characteristics of older workers, DfEE McKay, S. and Smeaton, D. (2003), Working After State Pension Age: quantitative analysis, Sheffield: Department for Work and Pensions Moss, N. and Arrowsmith, J., (2003), A Review of ‘What Works’ for Clients Aged Over 50’, Department for Work and Pensions Publication New Earnings Survey 2001, Office for National Statistics (www.statistics.gov.uk) Office for National Statistics (n. d.), Focus on Older People (http://www.statistics.gov.uk/cci/nugget.asp?id=882, accessed 13/10/04) Office for National Statistics, Labour Market Statistics, Scotland, July 2002 (www.nomisweb.co.uk) Office for National Statistics, ‘Chapter 2, UK Summary: analysis by Local Authority District’, Local Labour Force Survey 2000-1, (http://www.statistics.gov.uk/downloads/theme_labour/llfs_chapter2.pdf) OECD (2003), Overviews of Career Guidance and Public Policy: Bridging the Gap (www.oecd.org/dataoecd/31/55/29888148.pdf) OECD (n.d.) Disability benefit recipient rates, www.oecd.org/dataoecd/4/52/2496595.pdf (accessed 13/10/2004). Spence, J. and Kelly, A. (2003), Tremplin: The Mismatch of Skills on the Labour Market - an analysis and solutions provided by training, Luxembourg: Prism Research and Consulting sarl Stanworth, J (2001), Quarterly Small Business Management Report. Milton Keynes: Small Business Research Trust, Open University Business School Third Age Employment Network (TAEN) (2002), Briefing: Key facts on age diversity and employment, October 2002, London Third Age Employment Network (TAEN) (2003), Newsletter, Autumn 2003, London
Appendix 1 : Shortened version of Interview schedule used in the Learning
Outcomes Project of the University of Glasgow
Classification details Source: Religious denomination where known: 003 Address/Postcode: 004 Sex: 006 Age-group: 007 Marital status: 008 If married, for how long? 009 Family composition 010 Do you have any children? 011 If yes, how many aged under 18 in household? 012 Household profile: everyone who stays in the house at present, whether family or not Relationship to informant Informant Sex M F Age last birthday S Marital status M W D
005 Date of birth:
Age last birthday:
Working status f/t p/t un ret f/t ed
013 How do you and your household occupy your accommodation? 014/015 Long-term health problem which limits your daily activities or work? If so, what? 016 Ethnic group:
Childhood and Youth Education 017 Where were you born? 018 Where did you spend your childhood? 019 Did any brothers and sisters live with you during your childhood? 020 If so, how many? 021 How many were: (1) older brothers (2) younger brothers (3) older sisters; (4) younger sisters (5) twin 022/3 Childhood illnesses which affected your schooling? If so, what? 024/5 Parental absence during childhood? If so, why? 026 Main occupation of father/guardian during your childhood 027/028 Did your mother do (paid) work during your childhood? If so, what? 113
029 Family’s general financial situation during your childhood (housing type; area; neighbours; relatives) 030 Parents’ educational background (type of schools, age left, qualifications) and general attitude concerning your own education (encouraging? Visit the school?) 031/032 Anyone or anything that had a significant influence on your attitude to education as a child? If so, what? 033 Age at which continuous education (at school or college) ended: 034 Did you stay after the school leaving age? 035 Type of school you last attended: 036/037/038 Did you like or dislike school, or have mixed feelings? Reasons for answer 039/40 Did you gain qualifications at school and if so what? 041 Other qualifications gained since leaving school 042/3 Does your husband/wife/partner have any qualifications from school? If so, what? 044/5 Does your husband/wife/partner have any qualifications since leaving school? If so, what?
Employment, unemployment, training 046 At about what age did you stop living with parents/guardian? 047 Your life after you left the parental home: 048/049/050 At the moment are you of working age - employed full-time, part-time; seeking work; incapacitated; keeping house; studying full-time, retired etc ? If not currently employed, when did you last work? 051 If working, how long have you been working for your present employer or selfemployed? 052 What is your job title? 053 What are the main things you do in your present job? 054 Do you like/dislike all/parts of your job? 055 How many hours a week do you usually work on your present job, excluding mealbreaks and overtime? 056/7 Do you ever do paid overtime? If so, how often? 058 What is your current net weekly income, including benefits in cash and kind? 059 Which of the following best describe your reasons for doing paid work at present: (1) Working is the normal thing to do (2) Need money for basic essentials (food, (4) To earn money of my own (5)
rent/mortgage) (3) To earn money to buy extras
For the company of other people (6) Enjoy working (explain) Which of these is the main reason?
(7) To follow my career (8) Other
060/2 Have you been given any formal training by your present employer in how you do your present job? If so, what kind of course was it and how long did it last? 063/4 Has your present employer given you any (other) training in how to do your present job? If so, what? 065 Are there any opportunities for you to have further training with your present employer: (1) the job you’re doing now (2) jobs requiring new skills (3) jobs at a higher level than your present job? 066 Thinking about training generally, not just in your present job, would you like to have any further training or not? 067 For: (1) the job you’re doing now (2) jobs requiring new skills (3) jobs at a higher level than your present job? 068 What did you do when you first started work? 069 What has been your main job during your working life? 070 What other jobs have you had during your working life? 071 Brief details of partner’s work history 072/3 If applicable, have you spent any time away from work looking after your children full-time? If so, how long?
Participation in adult education/training 074/5 If you have participated in more than just the course about which you are being interviewed, please describe all these courses. 076 Which educational and training providers have you used? 077 When did the course on which you are being interviewed take place? (day, evening, etc.) 078 How did you find out about this course? 079 When you started this course, what was your work status? 080 Was the course applicable to your work? 081 Reasons for participation: 082 What were you looking for when you started the course, and did you find it? 083 What was your family/partner’s attitude to you doing the course? 084 What problems did you find when studying? 085 What particular things did you find enjoyable about the course? 086/087 Did you get a qualification at the end of the course? If so, what? 115
088/089 Was there anyone or anything that you feel has had a significant influence on your attitude to education as an adult? If so, who? 090/091 After they left school or ended continuous education, did any other members of your family participate in any adult education? If so which, what age where they and where did they study?
Outcomes from participation 092/3 Has your attitude to learning changed as a result of your returning to education/training? If so, how? 094 Apart from television and radio, what are your main leisure pursuits and interests at present? 095/6 Have these leisure pursuits changed since you returned to education/training? If so, how if at all are these change related to your return to learning? 097 How often do you: (1) visit the public library; (2) go to the cinema; (3) go to the theatre; (4) go to a concert; (5) go to a sports event; (6) go to church/place of worship 098/099 Have you ever been a member of a community group / organisation / club as an adult? If so when and what? 100/110 Have you joined any community groups / organisations / clubs since returning to education / training as an adult? If so, which? 102/103 Are you taking any educational / training courses at present? If so, what? 104/105 Are you trying to learn anything else at the moment (on your own, with friends etc) in an informal way? If so, what? 106/107/108 Are you thinking of taking any educational or training courses at some time in the future? If so, what? And have you made any definite plans to start a course? 109/110 Since returning to education / training has your relationship with your partner/children/family changed in any way? If so, how? 111/112 Has your involvement in adult education / training had any effect on your friendships? If so, how? 113/114 Did you start a job after participating on a course? If so, did your return to education / training a) help you get this job b) improve your performance in your present post? 115 Given your own experience, what advice would you give to someone thinking about starting an adult education course? 116 Can you describe what your involvement in adult education has meant to you? 117 Can you describe any negative aspects of returning to education as an adult? 116
118 Finally, has your involvement in adult education affected the way you think about yourself and the future?
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