Half of Britons believe most employers won’t employ young people without previous work experience

A new poll has found that around half of Britons (48%) believe the main reason for high levels of youth unemployment in the UK is due to employers not being willing to take a chance on candidates without work experience, while 40% of Britons believe the school system doesn’t do enough to prepare young people for the world of work.

The poll, which was undertaken by ComRes and commissioned by political communications and policy specialists The Whitehouse Consultancy, found that concern about the need for work experience was highest amongst those aged 18-24, with 60% believing that most employers wouldn’t employ people of their age without work experience.

Despite figures last week showing that the number of young people not in education, employment or training (known as ‘NEETs’) decreased on the last quarter by 20,000, unemployment remains highest among the 16-24 year old age group.

The poll additionally found that lack of support from the government was not widely perceived to be a major cause of youth unemployment. Just 26% of respondents believed that unemployment is worst among young people because there is not enough support from the Government in helping them find work, and only 18% arguing that employers are not given sufficient financial incentives to employ 16-24 year olds.

Chris Whitehouse, Chairman of The Whitehouse Consultancy, said:

“Despite the Government’s success in bringing down youth unemployment over the course of this Parliament, this poll suggests Britons believe there continue to be barriers for young people to overcome if they are to find employment.

“As the economy continues to grow, employers need to be more willing to take a chance on the next generation if they are to have a chance in succeeding in the workplace. With respondents also expressing concern about the suitability of the education system in preparing young people for the workplace, we also need to consider what additional skills, outside of GCSEs and A-levels, our young people need to prepare them for work and to offset any concerns about their experience amongst potential employers.”

Poll results

ComRes interviewed 2,062 GB adults online between 22nd and 25th August 2014. Data were weighted to be demographically representative of all GB adults aged 18+. ComRes is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules.

Q: Unemployment rates in Britain are currently worst among young people aged 16-24. Which of the following, if any, would you say are the main reasons why there are so many young people out of work? Please select up to three.

Option %
Most employers won’t employ people without previous work experience 48%
They lack the correct attitude to find work 43%
The school system does not prepare them enough for employment 40%
The welfare system encourages them to stay on benefits rather than find work 39%
Employers prefer to recruit immigrants rather than young British people 29%
There is not enough support from the Government to help them find work (e.g. work experience or work placements) 26%
Employers are not given enough financial incentives from the Government to employ young people 18%
None of the above 2%


Base: All GB adults (n=2,062).