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Young people turning down jobs over transport and uniform costs

The research also found a fifth of young people in the UK have missed school or work due to mental health

Research found 5% of young people who are unemployed had to turn down a job because they cannot afford the costs to start, including rent, transport or uniform, according to NatWest and the Prince’s Trust's annual Youth Index.

This rises to 10% for those who are not in education, employment or training and 9% of those who received free school meals.

Almost a fifth (18%) of people between 16 and 25 plan to finish their education early so that they can start earning money, while 24% cannot afford the cost of acquiring the qualification for what they want to do.

About 5% admitted missing school or work in the past 12 months because they could not afford transport.

Jonathan Townsend, the UK chief executive of the Prince’s Trust, said: “This year’s Youth Index highlights the stark consequences that the cost of living crisis is having on young people’s education, employment and wellbeing, threatening the aspirations of an entire generation.

“It reveals its impacts are having the worst effect on those who face the most disadvantage, with those from the poorer backgrounds or who are unemployed finding financial pressures are crippling their ability to pursue new job opportunities or secure the skills and qualifications to chase their career ambitions.”

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The research also found a fifth (21%) of young people in the UK have missed school or work in the past year due to their mental health.

A similar proportion (18%) report that a mental health issue has stopped them applying for a job or attending an interview (12%) during the last 12 months. 

Simon Blake, chief executive of Mental Health First Aid England, said young people have endured a series of crises in recent years which may have affected their mental health.

He told HR magazine: “Our young people have lived through a global pandemic and the resulting disruption to their education, two global wars that are beamed direct to their devices in real time, a cost of living crisis and a climate crisis. 

“As well as this, those young employees who started work during Covid have done so while we all learned to adapt to new ways of working.”

Over a quarter (29%) of young people worry their current employer would not support them if they experienced a mental health problem.

Blake added: “For business leaders, the need to support everyone’s mental health – graduates, non-graduates, apprentices and experienced workers alike – has never been greater. 

“All employers can and must take action to support the creation of workplace cultures in which everyone feels psychologically safe.

"This requires a whole-organisation approach where inclusion, mental health and wellbeing are integrated into the business strategy and where wellbeing and performance fuel one another. 

“This will look different for every employer but a commitment to creating and building connections among colleagues to help boost people’s sense of joy, satisfaction and purpose is a good place to start.”

Read more: Lack of diversity attributed to fewer young workers

The findings are derived from the results of an online survey in which a sample of 2,239 adults participated between 23 November and 14 December 2023.