Official statistics released this week indicated a 20,000 fall in youth unemployment in the UK.
The statistics, released by the Office for National Statistics on Wednesday, were described as “encouraging news” by Prime Minister David Cameron.
But the head of TrainE-TraidE, a Jewish non-profit organisation helping people seek out business and employment opportunities, said the figures do not reflect the amount of “under-employment” affecting 18-24-year-olds in the UK.
Shraga Zaltzman, the managing director of TrainE-TraidE, said under-employment, or young people taking jobs below their level of qualification, is “a problem that really does affect the Jewish community.
“We see so many Jewish graduates with a law or accountancy degree, with first-class honours, taking up jobs stacking shelves at Tesco. The number of top graduates with respectable degrees taking these types of jobs is increasing.”
Natalie Steiner, 21, graduated with a philosophy degree from Leeds University this year, but was unable to find a graduate placement in marketing or advertising.
“I was looking for a good role, but I couldn’t get a placement,” explained the former King Solomon student.
“So I decided to take up a job as a waitress. I see it as a short-term thing, because I need the money and want to move out soon.”
She said her situation is widespread as “most of my friends also graduated this year and are not getting any jobs”.
Elliot Gould, 21, read biology at university and graduated with a first-class honours. He said: “I was aware that there might not be a job after my degree — but I stayed focussed and am looking for placements.”
Mr Zaltzman, a former manager at a successful telecommunications company, claimed that the organisation has seen a 79 per cent increase in young people seeking internships.
He said: “Our figures show that young people are feeling the pinch more than ever — they come to us because they think placements are the best chance they have of finding a job.”
Last year, 30 per cent of people who got an internship via TrainE-TraidE, from large financial institutions including KPMG to high-street estate agents, were employed or called-back for more experience.
“This shows that placements do help young people get work — but the government has stopped supporting internships and that has 100 per cent discouraged companies from taking on interns,” added Mr Zaltzman.
He said work placements and apprenticeships are key to tackling youth unemployment and “our government needs to do more to help young people”.