Youth unemployment: are inflated job titles preventing young people from moving up the career ladder?

Young people in ‘creative’ sectors are missing out new opportunities and falling behind many in the graduate professions because they do not have the required skills and experience to move onto the next rung of the ladder.

Those who have chosen a more conventional career, such as teaching or accountancy, have a built in career ladder. The first step is training, and on passing exams, they quickly reap the benefits of their qualifications, as they can command a pay rise, take on more responsibility and look meaningfully to the future. Sadly, though, things are not quite so clear cut for those, many of them arts or social science graduates who have chosen to work in the policy, media or communications field. Not only are their starting salaries lower than those on trainee schemes, but they also have a much harder time navigating their way around the industry. Part of the problem is the fact that no two job titles mean the same thing.



Take a look at any jobs website, and it highlights the difficulty young people have in moving to the next rung. For example, one company looking to recruit a policy advisor might want someone fairly experienced, with  specialised knowledge of a particular area, but another company may just be looking for a recent graduate who they can train. Similarly, companies are increasingly referring to unpaid intern positions as ‘researcher’ roles, partly because of the stigma surrounding hiring young people to work for nothing, but clearly, this sort of research role is very different to that of a skilled post-graduate. It is a real concern that young people are not easily able to find the level they are at, and ascertain what the next stage in their career might be.

Nor can a job seeker work out his professional level by salary expectations: a larger company may offer a higher salary and a better benefits package compared to a smaller company, even though someone at smaller company taking on far more responsibilities. Recently, an administrative role at a FTSE-100 company was posted, which offered £34,000 per annum, whereas a smaller company with limited funds might struggle this match this salary for a part-time director.

The professions have none of this difficulty: a teacher, for instance, knows roughly how much they can expect to earn with x qualification and after y years in the profession. An actuary knows broadly how long it takes to get to a certain professional level, and how they can maximise their chances of getting to this stage. But for the majority of young graduates, they have none of this security, and have little idea how to fulfil their professional potential.



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