Stuck and Stigmatised

Sunday 31 August 2014

Copyright Guy LevyYoung women want to work. They often cannot because the advice, training and support they receive does not lead to any employment or leads to highly competitive, poorly paid jobs in a limited range of occupations.That’s the headline from Totally Wasted? The Crisis of Young Women’s Worklessness, which presents the interim findings from Scarred for Life?, the Young Women’s Trust’s Inquiry into women who are not in education, employment or training, which I’m honoured to Chair.The number of people in England not in education, employment or training (NEET) is high but there are many more women than men in this position. The fact that this has been the case for more than a decade points to the urgency of the Inquiry.  The report highlights how the impact of being NEET is deeper for women and can last longer; sometimes a lifetime.  They have told the Inquiry how they feel stuck and stigmatised.Contrary to popular assumptions, only a quarter of women who are not in education, employment or training are mothers, but those who are, face even more barriers to working. 
Young women who are NEET can be exploited, just as men can. But a zero hours contract or job paying under the minimum wage is harder to avoid or escape when you have fewer choices in the first place, and harder to cope with, if you have children to provide for and look after.We shouldn’t be willing to accept any of this.  Economically it makes no sense to deny women who want to work the opportunity to do so.
For too long, this issue has been denied the attention it deserves. Now though, thanks to Young Women's Trust, we hear first-hand from hundreds of women who are NEET about what they think needs to change.