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More than a quarter of a million young women are not receiving the support they need to find work – despite 86 per cent of them wanting jobs, with mums particularly affected, says a new report from the Young Women’s Trust.
The ‘Young, Female and Forgotten?’ report, looks at young women who are classed as “economically inactive” (not working or currently looking for work) and not in education or training. There are 285,000 young women in this category – 82,000 more than men.
The report shows that young women face barriers that shut them out of employment. Caring for family members is the main reason women give for being economically inactive, says the report. Mothers 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 families and communities that a “good mother” stays at home with her children, it adds. Another factor is a lack of regular and affordable transport, especially in rural areas.
The Trust says that local employment initiatives – which help young women in some areas overcome these challenges – fear for their future as European Social Fund money is at risk of being taken away. Without support, young women will find it even harder to find work, it states.
The report reveals the extent to which economically inactive young women can find themselves isolated, with limited support networks, and struggling to get by financially. This can lead to low self-esteem, low confidence and poor mental health – making job-hunting even harder, it states. 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.
The charity’s analysis of Office for National Statistics data shows that 29 per cent of young women who are economically inactive and not in education or training want to work now and 86 per cent thought they would work in the future. They are not eligible for Jobseeker’s Allowance because factors such as having to find childcare prevent them being immediately ready for work.
Professor Sue Maguire, of the Institute for Policy Research at the University of Bath, who carried out the research in partnership with Young Women’s Trust, said: “This timely research shines a light on the unacceptable levels of economic inactivity among young women who are also NEET. It clearly identifies a need to develop a better understanding of the causes of their economic and social exclusion in order to frame effective policy interventions.
“The evidence highlighted the detachment and isolation, accompanied, in too many cases, by high levels of anxiety and depression that many young women who fall into this category face. Too many young women lack the appropriate support which would enable them to re-engage, not just with education, employment or training, but with society more generally.
“As a matter of urgency, policy-makers from different government departments must come together to devise and implement targeted and sustained interventions.
Dr Carole Easton, Chief Executive of Young Women’s Trust, said: “Young women are telling us they want to work but too often they are shut out of the jobs market by a lack of networks and support and a lack of convenient childcare. While the Government focuses on reducing its unemployment figures, hundreds of thousands of women who are not included in the numbers are being forgotten.
“The report recommends support and mentoring to help ease young women’s transition back into the world of work, access to affordable childcare, better mental health provision and more careers advice and guidance. Young Women’s Trust is also calling for a new Minister for Young People to oversee progress.
“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.”