Over the last year I have been reading news articles and watching news on TV closely on the subject of youth unemployment. Today I saw an item about the youth jobs crisis. Researchers sent out over 2000 applications on behalf of imaginary young adults under 24, and only a small fraction even got a response.
The research also showed there were up to 66 unemployed people for every retail job in some areas. 80% of the jobs applied for were only offering minimum wage or very close to it and less than 25% of those jobs were offering full daytime employment.
If you then put this together with the research and data that says employers are looking for more qualifications and experience from their applicants (especially the young applicants), it is no surprise that youth unemployment is over 50%.
What is even worse is that even if a young person gets a chance at one of these jobs it won’t take long before they realize it’s probably not worth it. After tax and insurance deductions, plus parking charges, fuel or public transport expenses, to work short shifts in a crappy job, you are not left with much to smile about.
So this is the doom and gloom, what is my solution? It will come as no surprise that I am going to suggest they start their own business but I want you to stick with me why explain how and why.
My father has MS and is retired he lives on a small street with many retired people on it and he has told me they can’t find someone reliable to cut the grass who doesn’t want to charge a lot of money. There is a local “landscape gardener” with trucks etc. but they charge a fortune and just for cutting grass and trimming some hedges they are too expensive. I can’t believe that at this time during a recession and 50% youth unemployment that nobody in that area can find someone to cut the grass.
If a young person just printed out 500 leaflets and dropped them to houses in the right areas, offering to cut lawns and trim hedges for DOUBLE minimum wage, they would still be half the price of the “landscape gardener” competition. If they offered to come on a regular basis like every Wednesday or every 2 weeks and were reliable and polite they would have a full diary in no time. If they didn’t fill their diary I bet they would still get a lot of work and they would just need to drop another 500 leaflets in a another good neighborhood to get more. If you are a young person and feel that you are shy or can’t sell any service like this then do what everyone else does in business; partner up with someone who can. Even if you just use them to get you the work and pay them a small percentage for the time they help you then do it alone once you have filled your diary, so be it.
Speaking to people EVEN IN DIFFERENT COUNTRIES this is a common theme. Even though there is a recession and youth unemployment is at a record high, people can’t find someone reliable to cut the grass, paint the fence, wash the car (properly for proper money), clean the house or office, cut their hair at home (because they can’t get out for various reasons), paint the ceilings, and the list goes on. There are still not enough small cleaning business, painters and decorators, ironing services, pet walking and sitting, that charge the RIGHT price.
The crazy thing is that nearly all these “jobs” could demand much more than minimum wage, in many cases double the minimum wage and in cash.
I am sorry to say that even if I spoon fed this information to most unemployed young people they won’t take my advice and would still choose a minimum wage call center job (or worse choose to do nothing) over these options and here is why:
1. They have been brought up in world where the media has fed them the lie that going to work in an office in a shirt and tie or nice dress and high heels is admirable, cool and better than the guy who cuts grass EVEN if the guy cutting grass earns 3 times more in real terms and drives a Porsche at the weekends. Yes that’s right, the guy you see driving a Porsche to the supermarket on a Saturday while your Mom drops you off in her car to your crappy job could have started his business by cutting grass. There is nothing cool or admirable about working in an office in a shirt and tie on wages close to minimum wage, getting pennies in pay rises every year, with the constant promise of promotion but the reality is there is no promotion to have. I know, I’ve been there.
2. They have been spoon fed at school and often by their parents and/or friends parents that getting a good, employed, job is the only way to go. When they can’t get their job of choice they set their sights lower, and then lower again, and lower, and lower until they are scraping the barrel of possible jobs when they are better than that, and could make more money being self-employed.
3. They have been brought up by parents that put all the emphasis on homework and school work, studying, with plenty of down time with computer games and TV. A lot of young people just don’t know what it’s like to do a bit of real work. Take a random sample of 50 modern nineteen year olds, give them a big axe and ask them to chop wood and you will see what I mean. Picturing that image? Scary isn’t it! What is more scary is that those young kids parents thought that making them do their homework and study hard was going to get them a good office job, when in reality today they could get paid more chopping wood!
At 19 years old I was homeless but with no qualifications I ended up working for some of the biggest companies in the world, Goldman Sachs, CitiBank, WPP and then I went on to become a successful entrepreneur. Not because I am special, not because I was lucky, I just saw the narrow path society was pushing everyone else down and I chose another road. I also learned a lot of what I used later in my life as an entrepreneur when I was a teenager, self-employed cutting grass, laboring on building sites, installing irrigation and many other jobs getting paid more than my peers because I needed to survive.
If you would like some help with marketing your business or just to share your experiences I would really like to hear from you. Get in touch via the form below and I will email you back.