At an event last night (25 March) in Parliament, young people had the opportunity to tell MPs of their experiences of unemployment and what they feel should be done.

Throughout the discussions the value of volunteering was a common theme with one young person commenting: "If it hadn’t been for volunteering all my talent would have gone down the drain."

Other issues raised by young people were the disappointing standards of careers services, the ineffectiveness of job centres, the lack of work experience opportunities and entry level paid positions for school leavers and graduates, as well as the need for learning difficulties to be spotted earlier in education and support provided.

The event ‘Young and Unemployed: The Impact and Opportunities Available’ held in Westminster was organised by IARS and the 99% Campaign and featured speakers from a number of organisations representing young people. It was followed by a Q&A session with Labour MP Sarah Champion and Conservative MP Tim Loughton, as well as an impromptu speech from Liberal Democrat MP Simon Hughes calling for work experience opportunities to be offered from primary school level onwards to ensure young people are work-ready.

Clare Everett, 24, of Newcastle, and Tom Beresford, 24, of Palmers Green, London, spoke passionately of how their experience volunteering overseas with international charity Progressio equipped them with practical, project-based, hands-on skills and experience that helped them to stand out to future employers.

Tom told MPs: “Opportunities for young people to develop legitimate transferable skills are increasingly rare. Progressio’s International Citizen Service programme was not only a fantastic opportunity to understand the inter-dependency of our world, but it also gave me an opportunity to gain experience and skills working on a variety of project-orientated, community-based development tasks.

“The stand-out experience that I gained allowed me to get employment in the sector that I wanted, on a career course that leaves me motivated, content and dynamic. It really is one of few genuine opportunities for young adults to develop transferable skills in a way that makes them stand out to employers.

“I want to tell young people who are unemployed to be patient, stay confident, embrace any opportunity to develop transferable skills and embrace your civic right to lobby your government for more support by helping them realise their moral responsibility to see past the next election and support the future of this country; young people.”

Places to go overseas with Progressio’s International Citizen Service programme to travel to Central America or Africa this July are still available. Interested persons are advised to apply immediately and certainly by the end of April for the July departure.

Notes to Editors:

1) ‘Young and Unemployed: The Impact and Opportunities Available’ was held on March 25th at Committee Room 15, Cromwell Green Entrance, Westminster, London SW1A 0AA from 6.30-8.30pm.
2) Progressio is an international development charity supporting poor and marginalised people, especially women, to empower themselves:
3) International Citizen Service (ICS) is a UK-funded development programme that brings together 18-25 year olds to fight poverty overseas and in the UK. Apply now to be overseas in July 2014.
4) For any further information, including photographs, or to arrange an interview with either Clare Everett or Tom Beresford, please contact esther[at] or call 07783 409045.

Photos © Charlee Bennett/Progressio except the final photo © Ricardo Tomaz/Progressio. The final photo shows Progressio ICS volunteers (back row, left to right) Bethan McEvoy and Danni Riley with (right) Progressio UK office volunteer Laura Foster; and (front row, left to right) Tom Beresford, Clare Everett, Charlee Bennett (a former Progressio ICS volunteer, now Progressio's Youth Activism Assistant), Charlotte Hawkins, and Danielle Brennan.