More than two in five (41%) young people worry they could be turned down from a job because of their perceived social class, according to research from youth social action charity City Year UK.
Over a third (39%) of young people (defined in the survey as those aged 18-25) said that they felt ethnicity is also a factor in securing a job, and nearly one in ten (8.7%) believed they have been rejected for this reason. A third (36.6%) were concerned that they could be rejected because of their accent.
Confidence was also found to be a problem. Three-quarters (78%) of young people said they believe that employers do not have enough faith in their skills and abilities. More than seven in 10 (71%) young people don't apply for certain jobs because they don't think they'll be seen as the 'right' kind of person for the role.
Sophie Livingstone, chief executive at City Year UK, said employers should be doing more to reassure young people.
“It’s shocking to see the younger generation are writing themselves off before they’ve even started on the career ladder,” she said. “There is an army of dedicated young people willing to succeed who have the right professional skills, they’re just not getting the chance.
“At a time when the talent pool is shrinking, we need to give amazing young people across the UK the right opportunities to showcase what they can do."
The poll showed that almost two-thirds (65%) of young people believe businesses need to do more to ensure a level playing field in regards to recruiting, and nearly three-quarters (72%) cited government support.
Livingstone suggested employers think outside of the box when it comes to hiring young people.
"It’s hard to get meaningful work experience, but volunteering has a proven impact on employability which should be recognised through inclusion on application forms and interview questions,” she said. "Contact with employers reduces young people's chances of becoming NEET (not in employment, education or training) by 86%, so opportunities to engage with businesses while at school is a powerful way of exposing them to potential future careers."