17 October 2012 10:28
New research has revealed that up to 66 people are applying for every retail job, with vacancies often closed to candidates within hours of being advertised.
A study by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) also found that two thirds of those applying for jobs did not receive any response to their application. JRF researchers sent 2,000 job applications from fictional candidates, with at least five good GCSEs and relevant work experience, to more than 650 vacancies for sales assistants, cleaners, office administrators and kitchen staff.
There were between 24 and 66 unemployed people for every retail vacancy, depending on the supply of jobs in different areas. Vacancies were closed to candidates within days, and in some cases, hours, said the report. The study, by researchers at York and Warwick Universities and the London School of Economics, found that only one in four of the vacancies studied offered full-time, day-time work.
Employers expressed a preference for local candidates with easy journeys to work, even though jobseekers are required to look for jobs up to 90 minutes away from their home.
Chris Goulden, Head of Poverty at JRF, said: "It's important we have measures that provide more full-time, decent-paying jobs that can ensure work pays. A lack of success in the jobs market saps confidence, demotivates and leaves a scar across a generation of young people, while part-time, low-pay work traps people in poverty.
"On the day the latest unemployment statistics are released, this report makes for grim reading for young people. The intense competition shows the main problem is more fundamental - a major shortage of jobs."
Professor Becky Tunstall of York University, the report's co-author, said: "Many jobseekers are prepared to take any job, but it's hard to make work pay when many jobs offer short hours and low pay. Applicants face huge barriers when they take account of costs such as travel and childcare."
A separate report by the TUC found that young black men have experienced the sharpest rise in unemployment since the coalition came to power, with more than one in four of all black 16 to 24-year-olds currently out of work.
The TUC report said that young black men are more likely to be unemployed than any other ethnic group, although young Asian women have been hit by the biggest rise in unemployment over the past decade, up from 6% to 13%.
General Secretary Brendan Barber said: "The UK is in the midst of a youth jobs crisis. Over a million youngsters are out of work and many more are struggling to find the finances needed to further their education. Last week the Prime Minister singled out employment as a great success of the government. That's cold comfort to the one in four young black men struggling for work, or the one in six jobless young black women."
The reports, published ahead of the new unemployment figures today, followed similar studies in recent days showing a big rise in long-term unemployment among young people.