A lost generation of unemployed


Soo in amongst the gloom and doom something really well even more depressing. Youth  unemployment is increasing in the UK, spurred on by the poor economic climate, in general unemployment and the long term unemployed are every governments head ache. The new “coalitions” shake up of the benefits system which aims to get more people in work and make it pay to work is David Cameron’s brain child. What about the people who have spent two or more years out of work? What about the people who have only known unemployment, parents out of work, whole communities job less?

Work by Seligman whose work spans over 50 years would give an explanation as to why its so hard to break out of the jobless cycle. Seligman’s learned helplessness model came from a slightly unethical research study done in 1971. It involved conditioning dogs. In the first phase, there were three groups of dogs, in group 2, dogs were administered an electric shock that they could end after pressing a level. In group 3, the dog was unable to stop the shocks. The next part of the experiment, both groups were put in a position where they could jump over a fence to avoid shocks. Dogs in group 2 did this, however dogs in group three exhibited symptoms of extreme depression.  After a few attempts, the dog gave up trying to stop the shocks. This state, known as learned helplessness is the state of when an individual feels the position they are in life is a stable state. They may feel that what ever they try and do, they cannot get out of their situation.

This can be extended to people in unemployment, who may be used to living from benefits, and cannot see a way out, or after applying for tens, or even hundreds of jobs, being discouraged to even find or apply. This isn’t just for people who are in lower paid jobs this can extend to the chief executive that may have been made redundant 18 months ago, or the university graduate who finds it increasingly hard to jump through the vast amount of hoops it takes to land a  graduate level job.

The way to over come these feelings are to

  1. keep positive, after job application 100, its very hard to keep positive, but keep trying. 
  2. Do something, volunteering and attend free courses, just contact places like your local action for  employment centre (A4e) or Shaw trust centre. 
  3. Think about retraining, certain professions such as nursing, teaching and social work offer burseries for post graduate entry retraining; but make sure you really want to that job first before you dive in.

The governments new agency’s are getting paid on results, the amount of people they place successfully into jobs, which in theory as a tax payer makes sense, however in reality, may not work so perfectly. Every unemployed worker has complex needs, skills and experiences. It just remains to be seen that each agency needs to be able to appreciate and have the tools available to be able to get more people into sustainable employment.

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