Six years looking for a future
It’s been six years since I left school and here I am in the week of my 22nd birthday, reflecting upon the opportunities (or lack of) young women are given in my home town of Doncaster. Ultimately, the key to success lies within us, but we do need help getting a foot in the door at the beginning; are we given fair opportunities?
Historically in Doncaster it would have been much easier for young men to get on the career ladder than Young Women - we had coal mines in Doncaster so young men might have just gone t’work down pit with their Dad.
Although I do believe young men to be just as worse of as young women in Doncaster today, it seems that local authorities are doing more for young men. Plans to build a HS2 rail college are under way to train learners in rail engineering - traditionally a man’s job.
Looking back on my own experiences, I still to this day have never had decent careers advice- School’s pitiful excuse for career advice (a computer system) told me I should go into light picking and packing! Anyone who knows me will know that’s not for me. More recently I visited our local college and the lady I spoke to seemed like she couldn’t wait to get rid of me. The women in the Jobcentre were better than at college, but still couldn’t point me in the direction of proper careers advice - and obviously weren’t trained themselves.
The options for education I have now mostly require money upfront- a possible barrier for people who have been in low-paid, dead-end jobs all their professional lives. I managed to find the money for a college course but I’m sure there are plenty who are struggling to live and certainly don’t have an extra couple of hundred quid to pay for a ten week course. Jobcentre courses are mostly only available to people who have no experience at all and in all honesty their courses are pretty shoddy anyway; again mostly men-orientated but even the ones that appeal to women (administration, for example) may not help as there will be another 100+ people applying for the same job, some of whom will have experience and be more qualified for the role.
Deprived areas such as Doncaster often fall behind other parts of the country in terms of health, education, and the local economy. This is not news to us - everybody knows this happens but perhaps not everybody realises to what extent young women have to overcome hurdles. Sometimes the odds are against us from the beginning.