Statistics published last week show that there are 82,000 more young women than men who are economically inactive and not in education and training – totalling 285,000. Young Women’s Trust today released a report showing that, while most of these women want to work, they are not receiving the support they need to find jobs.
Often young women are economically inactive because they are caring for family members. Mums in particular struggle to re-enter the workplace due to a lack of affordable childcare at the right times of day and the expectation of some families and communities that a “good mother” stays at home with her children. This can prevent them being immediately ready for work, even if they want to.
An inability to start work within the next two weeks means they are not eligible for Jobseeker’s Allowance and they are not classed as “unemployed”. While the Government focuses on reducing unemployment figures, hundreds of thousands of women are being forgotten.
In some areas, local employment initiatives are helping young women overcome the challenges they face. As European Social Fund money is at risk of being taken away, however, many fear for their future.
The longer young women are cut off from the world of work, the harder it is to get a job. Economically inactive young women can find themselves isolated and struggling to get by financially. This can lead to low self-esteem, low confidence and poor mental health – making job-hunting even harder. Being out of work, training and job-hunting for more than a year has been shown to limit a young person’s chances of gaining employment in the future.
Nonetheless, young women tell us they hope to find jobs, leave the benefits system and secure financial independence. They welcome the idea of mentoring to help ease their transition back into the world of work and short courses to improve their skills. Initiatives like Young Women’s Trust’s ‘Work It Out’ service, which provides free and personalised coaching, are helping young women to build their confidence. Access to affordable childcare, better mental health provision and more part-time and flexible jobs would be a huge help too.
Giving young women the support they need to find work will not only help them to become financially independent but will benefit businesses and the economy too.
Dr Carole Easton, Chief Executive of Young Women’s Trust