Lost Generation Spotlight

Lost Generation

Revealing the challenges facing graduates, students and job seekers struggling to find work, and examining how the economic situation will affect their future.

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Wonder graduations at Queen's University in Belfast. The hard


graft has paid off for the students, and they can now enjoy a great


sense of pride and achievement. It is a day of celebration, with


thoughts of what comes next. Especially in these harsh economic


times. If you look at it rationally, the number of graduates coming out


with a number of jobs, their realistic we are not enough, so you


have to think of it like that and make sure you're the one who gets


noticed. I am looking for jobs at the moment, but it is quite


difficult. In the meantime, while I'm trying to find some kind of


graduates job, I am working as a barman. It is so difficult that the


minute. Does keep trying and hope for the best. It is quite hard to


get a job overseer at the minute. I have been applying for quite a few.


-- get a job over here at the minute. When I graduated from


Queen's College back in the 1980s, I was fortunate to find a job quite


quickly. I wonder how difficult it will be for today's students. Not


least because my own son has just started on his university career.


We all want our children to have better ways than her own, but for


the next generation, they are real concerns that it will not happen.


It is a tough time to look for a job, and the younger you are, the


tougher it can be. With almost one in five young people unemployed, it


can be a big problem. It has led to talk of the lost generation


struggling to find their way. I have been following a group of


young jobseeker's baffling to make a life for themselves.


Emma Taylor has a first-class honours degree from the University


of Ulster. He also has a student debt of �20,000. Seven months after


leaving university, she has had nothing but part-time work. I am 24


and still living at home with my parents. Still working part-time.


And have no prospect of getting a full-time job we getting myself


onto the career ladder. 22-year-old Adam Pettigrew thought


training as a bricklayer would get in a trade for life. The collapse


of the building industry catapulted him into a team once without work.


Being unemployed, I thought, this is it. No more work, I will be


unemployed for the rest of my days, living off for the state.


Unemployed graduates Jamie Kidd is packing up and going to New Zealand


after a three-and-a-half of scraping a living on temporary


contracts, all of which have dried up. I thought, I cannot do any more


of this. My work is so ad hoc that With 20,000 of our young people out


of work, I wanted to find out how difficult it is for them to find a


job. We brought her three jobseeker's together with a group


of graduates, trainees and those without work to share their stories.


Who is currently in a position to be actually actively looking for


work at the moment? Bikila, you are a teacher? Recently


qualified, in the summer. Every job that I have applied for has


required at least one year's experience. That is excluding


teaching practice. They do not even take you for interviews or anything


like that. The situation is bleak in Northern Ireland with job


prospects and competition. I am a key teacher, and it is competitive


in its own right. There are a lot of P E teachers. I have only had


one interviewer and this is my second year at it. It is very grim,


and there are no jobs. How hard have you found finding the job he


once defined? I ran out of money and had to come home. It was kind


of like starting again. Emma Taylor started university in


2008, the Year of the credit crunch, when the world went from boom to


bust. In an effort to keep a student said law, see combined her


studies with a part-time job. started here when I first started


by decree. What I would find is that my part-time experience here


would actually count more towards me getting a job and my actual


degree would. The vast rhetorical arts students have at least one


part time job. They are always following the American model of


working their way through college. It is very disheartening for them


to find out that their prospects are very limited. Nevertheless,


enough old acoustic we would make her one of the lucky ones. I was


initially quite confident that I would find a job, because I had


such a great result. That has definitely decreased over time. I


am struggling to find work, everyone is in the same boat.


is stuck in the same part-time job in a DIY store that he had when in


university. C M �6.60 per hour, and feels that despite having a degree,


she has little prospect of beginning a career. It is really


disappointing to me to find out that it is really not of any


benefit to me to have a degree. None of the roles available require


me to have a degree. For someone like Emma, it is as if her life has


been put on hold. Unable to take the next step into adult life, she


is stuck between education and work. I cannot imagine having a mortgage


or anything like that. Because I have a student loan, it seems that


other massive debt. Another financial burden to undertake.


it is the features of Emma and her whole generation that are in danger


of being mortgaged in the face of the economic downturn. -- the


futures of Emma and her generation. There is not a huge amount of jobs


that these people can find over the next two or three years. There is a


real possibility that this can build up and build up, and people


will stay forever out of the labour market. Every here you are out of


work, it becomes more difficult to get back in. Five years out of work,


becomes more difficult to get in if you are just one year out of work.


If it is bad for graduates, it is worse for those young people who


have not been to university, even those who thought the dead have the


skills to make a living. An apprentice bricklayer from the age


of 16, Adam Pettigrew thought he would always be able to find work.


I was planning on being a sub- contractor, I wanted to be top of


my game whatever I'm doing. I was not as planning on being a


bricklayer for the rest of my life, I wanted to move up. When the


recession hit and the property market suffered, 30,000 people lost


their jobs in the construction sector here. Adam found himself not


only without work, but without prospects. Depressing. It's just


satyrs your confidence. He have no drive, it is hard, you feel. -- get


there just shatters your confidence. Adam became one of Northern Ireland


posmac 48,000 GAA. -- needs. Young people not in employment education


or training. The good news for Adam is that the


statistics no longer include him. He has started retraining as a chef.


Are you were wanting to try this? Your expert opinion.


We need Chantilly cream with lemon tart.


You are determined to will finish this course and get a decent job?


have my head focused on one goal. My career is more important than


anything, I am just sticking at it and getting my career. I want to be


a chef. Add the lemon juice to the cream. What do you parents make of


this transformation? Proud as punch. My dad is at university, he is 47


and he went to university. He was a taximan, but then all of the


tradesmen went into taxi. If my dad can do it, so can I. A few look


ahead, for five years down the line, what do you think you might be


doing? What would you like to be doing? I would like to be working


in a top misalliance a restaurant, and if not misalliance are then


fine dining. -- Michelin-starred. Immigration is the traditional


response to unemployment on this island. At the height of the boom


and the so-called Celtic Tiger down south, huge numbers of people were


attracted home by good jobs, reversing the trend in previous


generations. Today, many of the young people we have spoken to are


expected to have to go of May to find work.


In the two years since he left university, 25-year-old film


studies graduate trainee Ket has been unable to find steady work.


Tired of being hired and fired on a series of short term contracts, he


has decided to emigrate. I wanted to get into the film industry, but


a lot of people want to do it and there are not many jobs. I did not


find it would be difficult to find a job anywhere else. Jimmy had


hoped to find a job in London, but when he did not, he came back home.


-- see me. Back to a graduate dole queue which has more than doubled


in the past few years. When you are in uni, you're in this bubble. When


you come out, you go kind of all crap. I need money. I need money


for rent, I need money for food, stuff like that. You are on your


own. With friends already living and working in New Zealand, Jamie


is not prepared to be unemployed here. Despite trepidation, he has


decided he would rather take his chances out there. It is scary.


Leaving everything you know and the people you care about. It is


daunting. It is exciting at the same time. It is a great experience


and they cannot wait to do it. Then again, it is harder by trier to


For mum Lorna, it is not just her son's leaving that is on her mind,


but whether he will go the way of others in the family. My uncle went


out when he was probably Jamie's age to join his uncle in Australia,


and never came back. He has had four children out there, they have


all have families, both my sisters went to London in their early


twenties and have made lives there. My father's family are all in


Canada, so I am the only one left. Lorna understand why Jane needs to


go but is reluctant to see him leave. I would prefer that he


stayed here and got married and had his family here and everything, but


it is unfortunate. People have always left Ireland through the


centuries, haven't they? I think he is excited, but he is also


apprehensive. He needs to embrace it, I think. I would like to check


in for Heathrow. My mum doesn't want me to leave. But she didn't


want me to stop -- doesn't want to How do you feel? Quite sad. I


suppose that I can't... Protecting anymore, not that I could protect


him in the first place! But he will be fine. And I will miss him.


There is evidence to suggest that more and more young people see


their future outside Northern Ireland. What we would find in the


grammar schools is whether they are Protestant or Catholic, over 70% of


people want to leave it. Their plan is to leave Northern Ireland


because they have assessed the situation here and feel that they


run up the opportunities for them. I think it is very unfortunate for


Northern Ireland, because we are losing 8th generation of people


when we need them, we need their talent and their skills. We would


want to utilise these people's skills in order to generate profits


and economic growth, and we are not able to do that because there


simply are not the jobs in those high in sectors in the same volume


Training night at the local GAA ground. Just like Jamie, these


Northern Ireland graduates are also facing up to leaving home. They


have done it already. This is not counted down, it is Middlesex. --


not County Down. Work hard, play hard. These young men had been


hoping for jobs in the construction sector but by the time they


graduated, the industry in Northern Ireland had collapsed, so they


found themselves here, in London, looking for jobs. Tighten it up in


the middle! The numbers in the club have risen tenfold because of what


has happened at home. It is good news for you, but what does it say?


Are it is awful sad. I'm here 24 years myself. We're finding that


they are staying for a lot longer. There is nothing to go home to. And


I'm afraid, when they come over now, they get settled in London, they


enjoy it, they will not be coming back home for a while. It is


These players have managed to find professional jobs here, but when


they were back home, it was different story. For while, I was


picking apples in Armagh. Picking an entire crate of a portable


around �8 an hour. Do you miss home? You miss your friends and


family at home, definitely, some day we will probably all go back,


but over here it was a great opportunity, we have all the boys


here in the same boat, it is like a home away from home. I felt strong


enough to leave home, leave my family, for me it was London, may


be mainland Europe, but I think Australia and the USA are too far


away. Are you optimistic things are going to get better? You have to be


optimistic. It is not about earning money, it is about getting


experience on the CV. It gives other people hope, as well.


optimistic that things will get better back home? Hopefully they


will. If we feel we can bring something back home, breaded back


to where it should be, it is up to us, it should be our responsibility


to make sure my sons and daughters have opportunities back home, where


I want them to grow up. 24-year-old quantity surveying graduate Ronin


jumped at the chance of professional work in London. I was


labouring for five or six months for a bricklayers, bent the phone


call came, I decided to jump on it, I took the flight. The job he got


was as an assistant quantities a buyer at a company in the City of


London, where I went to meet him. - - assistant quantity surveyor. Run


and admits to being homesick and says it hadn't been for the work,


he wouldn't have left Newry. But like generations before him, he


thinks he might have a better teacher outside Northern Ireland.


am just going to take it as it comes, even if I was offered a job


back home tomorrow, I don't know if I would take it or not, because I


am with a very good company at the mind, and I'm working on big


projects. I don't know if I would get that experience back home.


on the road to Newry to meet his parents. His father is having to


come to terms with the fact that another son, Glyn, is also likely


to end up working outside Northern Ireland. He went for an interview


this morning in Northern Ireland. Fingers crossed, he will get that


job. Would he be keen to join his older brother? I think so. I think


most parents would like to have their children work at home, work


in the area, and live around the area, but there is no work here, so


they had better go up and get it dented around and do nothing.


people are resigned to that fact? This is it. What about the rest of


your children? You have five altogether. Have you talked to the


younger ones about what they might do? I live in hope that every time


you hear on the news, the economy is going to get better and there is


going to be more jobs. What about student debt? Is it something you


have given a lot of thought to that you are frustrated about? I am


frustrated about that, speaking to others in London, I know they're


not going to make money, they are just going to cover their costs,


the cost of accommodation, it is just phenomenal. They are not going


to be able to make any savings or pay off any of that student loan.


Students here leave university with a debt, on average, of �15,000. The


Universities Minister says that is why the executive has decided to


freeze fees and �3,500 a year to continue their education. I think


he executive sends a signal that we value our younger people, we value


higher education, we want them to stay in Northern Ireland and build


their careers there. Despite that reassurance from government, money


remains a major issue for the younger people we spoke to. Many


simply cannot imagine a future when they are financially independent.


Can we talk a bit about money? Mikayla, how much of an issue is it


what you have spent on your education become for you at the


moment? Well, I am thousands of pounds in debt, at the minute, and


I'm not making enough money to start paying it back. So God knows


when that will happen, I will have to get a job first before I can


start paying it back. I think I will just be in debt for the rest


of my life. Can you put any kind of figure, the kind of debt you have


amassed? Between 15,000 to �20,000 in debt. I am terrified that I


don't have a job, so I can't really start worrying about those issues,


as far as pensions and property ladders are concerned, that seems


to me like a trip to the moon, that is a long way off for me yet. I


have got pressing concerns. How do you feel about the whole financial


question? I would still go back and do it all over again, I absolutely


love my degree. I think it was �20,000 well spent. I just put it


to the back of my mind and forget it until I am earning money, then I


will think about it. With fewer jobs now available, graduates are


increasingly taking the work that less qualified school leavers would


have expected to get in the past. Indeed there is a knock-on effect,


what we are seeing now is people who would have started in the


supermarket or the bar, they feel very squeezed, because they simply


cannot get employment. The people who would previously have got that


job but now don't, maybe are now unemployed, so it has had a knock-


on effect. Even longer term, those graduates start to tell brothers or


sisters, all their children, their experience, and that can feed


through into disillusionment with education probably don't think it


is worth the investment. If you think of it from the employer's


perspective, faced with a 50 children applying for a job, they


will automatically gravitate towards the most qualified one, so


it is difficult to see that employers could be encouraged to


choose the lower skilled above the higher skilled. Emma, you have got


your degree and you were saying you work part-time in a DIY store, so


your degree is of no relevance as far as that is concerned. Do you


think you're keeping someone else out of the job who would be


perfectly capable of doing the job you are doing? Well, I had started


at job before I took the degree, I have been there three years.


Obviously, I might be keeping somebody from that job, but I need


a job as well, as anybody else. there are concerned that time of


the job people without degrees might have done, like working in a


supermarket or doing bar work, isn't available because graduates


who cannot find jobs in line with what they have studied are looking


for that kind of employment? I used to work in a shop where... It was


just work experience, everyone there had a degree. It was just a


normal shop, grocery shop. Do you think it is more difficult now to


do what you want to do than it would have been a few years ago?


Definitely. I was 16, just left school, but got a job and a call


centre by clicking my fingers. It was a phone interview. Now I cannot


even get an interview. It is weird, what you're saying is you are being


turned down for jobs because you don't have a degree, whereas I am


because I do have a degree. At the reality is that a young person that


the degree is around twice as likely to be unemployed as someone


with a degree. As dramatic as the figures might be in terms of youth


unemployment, the figures show that for graduates, there prospect of


having a job and sustaining a job are higher than those who don't


access Higher Education, so even though people are coming out with


degrees, there really is strong evidence that suggests you are far


better off considering going into higher education or equivalent.


would be wrong to think there is no hope of the today's young people. I


am on my way to catch up with Emma, who is in the process of moving to


set up a new online newspaper. Emma will run the paper's marketing and


support herself with another part- time job. It happened really


quickly, but I'm really excited about it, because we have been


focused on trying to get appear so we could work on it, so it has been


a really quick transition, but to do something I have wanted and we


have been planning to wards. Perhaps ironically, one of the


paper's most popular features is a section dedicated to Newry's lost


generation. What of the people you have spoken to said about their


experience? It is basically called Newry's lost generation, it is


about each person who has left Newry, they're pretty much our age


bracket, and they are all leaving, they are in Canada, Australia, even


some have gone to Bangkok and different places. What are your


hopes of what the newspaper could become? What is the potential?


have worked it out that if we had a full advertising budget, everyone


advertising with us, we could potentially make a decent salary,


it wouldn't be grade, but it would be above the national minimum wage.


Enough to live on. If this venture ultimately isn't a success, would


you go? Yes. Whether it be Canada or Australia, will definitely not


be staying. As for our other young jobseekers, Adam has four months


left on his course, at the end of which he is hoping to get a job as


a specialist pastry chef. And as for Jamie Kidd, who emigrated to


New Zealand in search of a better start in life, we caught up with


him up with the help of modern Hello. How are you? I am good. You


have had about a week. Are you optimistic he will find a job


What about missing your folks back home? We know your mum was pretty


upset in particular. Do you think you have done the right been going


to New Zealand? -- of the right thing? Had it all works out. All


We are entrepreneurs, innovators, and they are going away. The key


difficulty for Northern Ireland is they cannot see any prospect of


coming back, so we lose those skills, and we lose the


intelligence they have gained. is a danger the executive is


determined to avoid. Whether you go to Great Britain or the south, or


anywhere, the message is, please come back and invest your feature


in the Northern Ireland economy. But will there be a future?


Ultimately, they will face a challenging environment, such is


the nature of the competitively global world. In the face of all


the progress we can see around us, it is extraordinary that we should


be talking about a lost generation. But swirling about as are the


First in a new series. Mark Carruthers uncovers the challenges facing recent graduates, students and young job seekers struggling to break into the world of work - and asks what impact the toughest economic situation in a generation will have on their futures.

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