Highly qualified but out of work - new research shows the backgrounds of Jews on the job market

Data gathered by employment charity Resource reveals its clients are well educated, have been earning salaries above the national average, but are not always IT savvy


A research project by employment support charity Resource offers a snapshot of the earnings, qualifications and IT capabilities of British Jews.

Resource has analysed the registration information supplied by 556 clients over the past two years who have had at least one session with an adviser. The majority had also attended Resource’s two-day “tools and techniques” course.

The study — conducted by Resource volunteer and market researcher Carol Rosenberg — found high academic qualifications and salaries above the national average (13 per cent of clients reported a salary of £60,000 or more in their previous job), but also a significant number on lower incomes.

Some of the findings also reflect national trends, such as men earning more than women (although the Resource figures are influenced by factors such as women returning to the job market after having children).

They also show a lesser level of computer savviness among the older generations.

Those registering with Resource —which draws most of its clients from North London and the Hertfordshire suburbs — are asked to supply details of age, salary, highest qualification, job type (full-time, part-time, temporary, voluntary, self-employed) and IT competency.

Educationally, they score highly with a third of both men and women holding a postgraduate or professional qualification and another third reporting a degree.

Around a quarter of clients were aged 45-54, a slightly smaller percentage were in the 35-44 age bracket and there was also significant demand from new graduates, the 29-34s and 55-64s.

Within the sexes, the biggest grouping was women aged 45-54 (28 per cent) — with 20 per cent of men in the same age category. Four per cent overall were aged 65 or above, reflecting the desire of some people to keep on working, or wanting to supplement their pension.

In total, 55 per cent had been in full-time employment and 18 per cent in part-time jobs, the remainder split between temporary roles, self-employment and voluntary activities.

Salary-wise, almost a quarter of respondents had been earning under £20,000 (18 per cent of men and 31 per cent of women) and 19 per cent between £21,000 to £30,000. Of those reporting salaries beyond £60,000, 20 per cent were male, compared to just six per cent of women.

In age terms, 22 per cent of the 55-plus were among the highest earners — but 19 per cent in the category reported salaries below £20,000. The biggest number declaring themselves “unpaid” was 16 per cent of under 35s.

Some of the most interesting findings were on IT competency, where 24 per cent of clients said they had never used LinkedIn.

Four per cent and three per cent respectively reported no experience of email and the internet (a small number of people with special educational needs are supported by the charity).

However, staff also cite instances of executive level professionals with limited IT proficiency, having relied heavily on personal assistants to deal with emails and web-related tasks.

Although not part of the survey, Resource reports that charity, accountancy and finance, education, IT and retail were the top sectors for clients helped back into work.

Resource CEO Victoria Sterman said the research had been conducted to better understand “the changing face of the people we serve to make sure we are equipped to support them.

“The findings have mostly confirmed what I expected. We’ve got a large group of women returning [to the workplace].

“We’ve got a large group of men in their 40s and 50s. The IT literacy has been a bit of a surprise, as well as some of the [high] job levels that people have come from.”

She added that Israelis seeking work in the UK accounted for just over ten per cent of its clientele. The charity also supports American, South African and Eastern European Jews on a UK job hunt.

Looking ahead, Ms Sterman anticipated having to respond to the changing employment landscape.

“We know there are job roles which are fading out and new ones coming in. AI is already starting to have an effect.”

Resource’s latest yearly figures show that it supported 958 people in 2019 — 400 as “full programme” clients, the remainder attending employability events and workshops.

Of full programme clients, 276 (69 per cent) found jobs with the charity’s help, a 23 per cent increase on 2018.

In addition, the number of new full programme clients in 2019 was a 17 per cent rise on the previous year.

Ms Sterman acknowledged that within the Jewish community, there reamained “a lot of shame and embarrassment around unemployment. We encounter people who would love to give us a testimonial but absolutely wouldn’t have their name on it.”

She recalled that after the JC published a photo of a Resource event including a man the charity had assisted, “he phoned up and said: ‘I’m really happy that you helped me get my job but I wasn’t necessarily ready for other people to know that I’d had help from you.’ I think that is quite typical.

“A few recessions ago, as more and more people were made redundant, the stigma lessened.

“Everyone knew someone who had been made redundant. It wasn’t so personal.

“But I don’t think we’ve moved on from there. It’s still very hard for someone who has lost their job, harder in our community than outside, because everyone will know it if you go shul, [have children at] Jewish schools or whatever. The news will get around very quickly.”

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