The SPIDER project (Supporting Public Service Innovation using Design in European Regions) is a PARTAS project in Tallaght funded by the EU under the Interreg IVB programme. One of the key pieces of learning in coming to understand service design has been to really listen to the service users. So as part of their SPIDER work in Dublin and bringing the service design approach to youth unemployment, Partas has been doing an enormous amount of listening to unemployed youth. What they heard were exasperated, frustrated and almost despairing youths who just wanted a job and felt it was their entitlement.
Fifty young people aged between 18 and 24 took part in our research. 25 of the participants resided in North Dublin and 25 in South Dublin. All of the research participants who took part in the research were actively looking for education, training, employment and / or self – employment.
There was a mixed review when participants were asked about their experience of education to date; with a high percentage of the participants explaining how they did not like secondary school and had an overall negative experience in general. On a positive note, however, many of the participants stated that since they have continued on in further education for example Youthreach courses, their experience of education had become predominantly a more positive one.
All of the research participants were in agreement that education was of crucial importance; however, a difference in opinion was evident when it came to whether education was as important when trying to gain employment.
Opinion was divided amongst the participants as to whether qualifications or previous work experience was the thing that employers take most into consideration, with one participant expressing: ‘I know people with a good Leaving Cert and a good college background working in McDonalds…I mean a Leaving Cert only counts if you’re going for college’ while another participant was of the opinion that: ‘You can’t get anywhere without it…you need it for any job that you want to do and things like that’. Predominantly, the most common view amongst the participants, however, was that it depended on the job.
Emphasising the importance of having an education, one participant, who had recently returned to education after leaving school at a primary level, explained: ‘You’ll get nowhere in life without [an] education. You are stuck there with no education; not being able to read or write. If you want to get a driver’s licence, if you want to get a job, you can’t get them with no education’.
The response overall from the participants was very positive when asked did they find training courses, internships and / or work experience useful in terms of helping them develop their future career paths and gain employment, with one participant expressing: ‘Yes. It [work experience] gave me more experience in the working world and it also gave me responsibilities and it made me more mature in the workplace’.
Another participant who is currently involved in a training course and who had completed work experience in the past stated: ‘Yes it did because it gave me the confidence and experience I needed to do job interviews etc. and also it gave me a fair idea of the areas in which I am good / interested in’ while other participants added that ‘it gave me valuable experience which leaves me in a strong position to gain work in my desired sector’ and ‘this course has helped me return to education to get the skills I need to progress to further education and on my career path’
More than half of the research participants (56%) had never been employed in a paid capacity. Out of the 44% of the participants who had been previously employed, all of them, with the exception of four young people, had only been employed for brief, temporary, often seasonal, stints. Word of mouth and finding out about the position through a family member or friend were the most common means by which the participants were made aware of these short term employment opportunities.
When asked how difficult they found it to be to secure employment, the majority of the participants stated that it was ‘extremely difficult’. Employers requiring more qualifications and skills were found to be the top reasons as to why the young unemployed found it difficult to gain employment.