Catch-22 | 7 in 10 young jobseekers rejected from 'entry-level' jobs over lack of experience

7 in 10 young jobseekers rejected from 'entry-level' jobs over lack of experience

Britain's young jobseekers are being rejected for roles because they don’t have enough experience – despite the jobs being billed as ‘entry-level’, according to new research.

The survey, commissioned by Virgin Media O2 ahead of National Apprenticeship Week (5 to 11 February), demonstrates the uphill challenges young people are facing as they start their career.

In today’s hyper-competitive job market, three quarters (74%) of 25–34-year-olds have been rejected from an entry-level role because they didn’t have enough experience with a third (37%) saying they’ve felt underqualified when applying.

Furthermore, more than three quarters (77%) of Brits believe it’s important to have relevant work experience even when seeking an entry-level role, while seven in 10 (72%) think it’s harder to find entry level roles nowadays.

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Two thirds (64%) also believe there is more stringent job criteria compared to when they started out, and more than a quarter (28%) believe the dream of landing a good entry level role is dead, without prior direct experience.

The findings help shed light on the latest NEET (those who are not in education, employment, or training) figures released in October last year revealing a 1.3% increase year on year for 16-18 year olds, the highest rate since 2012.

Hiring on potential not prior experience

Virgin Media O2 is creating around 200 apprenticeship, graduate, and intern positions in 2024, in a wide range of positions across the UK including in London, Reading and Manchester. All roles are offered on a permanent basis providing job security, with a starting salaries of at least £22,500 and up to £35,000.

To help ensure a level playing field where young people are hired based on potential rather than experience, Virgin Media O2 does not ask for CVs or require any prior work experience for any of its apprenticeship, graduate, or internship roles. The recruitment process focusses solely on assessing candidates’ skills, strengths and motivations, instead of their education or work history. In addition to roles that require no experience, Virgin Media O2 also offers entry level positions that require no qualifications at all or just 5 GCSE 4-9.

Karen Handley, Head of Future Careers at Virgin Media O2, commented: “It’s wrong that many talented young people are being overlooked for entry-level roles because they don’t have prior experience – it’s creating unnecessary barriers for people starting out in their career.

“At Virgin Media O2, we believe in creating opportunities not obstacles, hiring based on potential with no prior experience or CVs needed for any of our early career roles. With more than 200 apprentice, graduate, and intern roles available this year across the UK, we’re giving young people the opportunity to build the skills and knowledge needed for a successful future career.”

Handley oversees Virgin Media O2’s apprenticeship schemes, through which apprentices learn in-demand skills, gain a recognised qualification and get into careers which would, in some instances, require a degree. Meanwhile graduates and interns will get the opportunity to rotate around different departments to help them find the career that’s right for them.

Roles available will include schemes such as field engineering, where apprentices work to keep customers connected by installing and fixing products in homes, and finance, where successful applicants will work across many different areas of finance operation, building fundamental accounting knowledge.

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