Progress | Centre-left Labour politics

Job centres are failing young women

A report published today by Young Women’s Trust has found that job centres are failing to help women into work. Just 19 per cent of young women who visited a job centre in the past year reported that it helped them to find a job. Young women are more likely to be out of employment, education or training than young men; it is therefore crucial that those women who wish to enter employment are given high-quality support and guidance.

Young Women’s Trust works to support and represent young women trapped by low or no pay and facing a life of poverty. 59 per cent of the young women included in their study described their time at a job centre as ‘humiliating’, while 68 per cent described their experience as ‘stressful.’ For young women who are without work and desperately seeking financial independence, job centres must provide essential support and equip jobseekers with the necessary skills to enter the workplace.

The Tories have done far from enough in government to help job seekers into work. Those without employment have faced punitive sanctions, incorrect work capability assessments that devastate the lives of disabled people and a stigmatising ‘shirker’ label all too often. Support and training to help jobseekers into the workforce is often of an inadequate quality. Young Women’s Trust found that 44 per cent of young women in their study felt they had not been provided with useful work or training opportunities by Job Centre Plus.

There is a significant concern that young women may be deterred from seeking employment and claiming temporary financial support by a hostile environment at job centres. Appropriate training, advice and support, however, can transform the likelihood that young women enter the workforce. Young Women’s Trust provides free coaching and job application feedback to empower young women. 93 per cent of women who have used their coaching and support services found them to be useful while 69 per cent felt more confident when applying for a job. The Young Women’s Trust surveyed a representative sample of 4,014 young people (between 18 and 30 years old) in Great Britain.

Women face significant barriers when trying to enter the workforce and advance their career. 40 per cent of young women surveyed by the Young Women’s Trust did not feel confident when applying for a new job, while 62 per cent stated that they would not apply for a job unless they found they met all of the criteria. In contrast, 54 per cent of young men would not apply. Last week the Fawcett Society marked Equal Pay Day. As a result of the gender pay gap, women effectively are without an income from 10 November, while men continue to earn for the rest of the year. If we are to close the gender pay gap and ensure equality, the barriers that women face when joining the workforce and advancing their career must be removed.

In power, a Labour government could provide support and training for job seekers and especially for women, building on their previous New Deals. Improved lifelong education, high quality and low cost accessible childcare and a real living wage would transform the lives of women in the workplace. It is essential that job centres offer appropriate support and are supportive rather than ‘humiliating’ environments. The Tories are letting down women and failing to meet their needs. There is no doubt that women who wish to enter the workforce deserve far better support in order to do so.


Miriam Mirwitch is a member of the London Young Labour executive. She tweets @mrwtch

You can read ‘Work it Out’ by the Young Women’s Trust here



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Miriam Mirwitch

1 comment

  • New Labour’s New Deal was a Tory-lite joke. It was simply a work-for-your-dole-money scheme along the lines of the proper Tories’ YTS schemes of the 80s.

    Forcing young people to work for nothing simply drives down wages. When will the Blairites learn?

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