Young People

Here’s more about the guys we followed as they looked for work.


Craig, Wigan

Craig is an unemployed graduate. He graduated in 2010 after studying Communications Design at Plymouth University. He dropped out in his third year to start a creative business. Craig re-joined uni to finish his degree after the business failed to get off the ground. Although working as a receptionist in a hairdressers, Craig was in debt from the bust company and student loans. With little funds to commute for unpaid internships in London, Craig headed North.

He feels that after he left uni he was ill equipped for the realities of the creative jobs market. With ongoing rejection, Craig is now claiming Job Seekers Allowance and applying daily for positions that include admin and cleaning jobs.

'It's really difficult out there for young unemployed people. I have had a business that's failed, I have lived in a hostel and I am currently working my way back up with the help of the charity.'

A piece from Craig's portfolio was selected from over 10,000 artists on the NOISE portfolio website to take part in the NOISE Art of Protest exhibition. The show received international media exposure and is now touring across the country.

We paired him up with Richard Joseph, co-founder of the innovative kitchen-ware design company Joseph Joseph. After a meaty mentoring session, Richard opened his contacts book to hook Craig up with Adrem, a creative recruitment agency who advised Craig on how to transform his portfolio into a professional-looking, self-marketing tool.


During the programme Craig moved down to London, and although struggling to finance himself, he’s found graphic placements at renowned organisations to build the professional experience on his CV.

'I cannot comprehend why this sort of programme or parts of the programme at least are not part of the Job Centre’s initiatives. The biggest thing that has changed my life has been speaking to people within my chosen industry.My way of saying thank you to everyone involved is to work hard and actually make my dream of being a designer come true. I say dream, but it’s beginning to look more like reality now. This is just the beginning for me.'

For more of Craig's work visit his NOISE Portfolio 

Read Craig’s ideas on how to tackle youth unemployment here

Danielle, Durham

Danielle is an unemployed mother of a 3 year old daughter, and also has a mortgage. She recently joined the ‘New Enterprise Allowance’ scheme, a new Government initiative to help those out of work to start their own business, as part of The Work Programme.

Danielle has 13 GCSE's A-C, and started college to do A-Level art. However, she had to leave and look after her family's business after her father became ill in 2004. After helping to wrap up the business as a Company Director, she went on to become a Detention Officer with the Police. Following her maternity leave after the birth of her baby, she found it difficult to continue to work shifts. She explains that “if you stay off work for a long time, it's hard to get back ‘in it’.”

After one year of actively looking for work, Danielle started the NEA 4 weeks ago. She has been working on a business plan with her local Enterprise Agency, to start a mural company for kids’ bedroom walls, schools and community centres. As part of the NEA she'll have a cash allowance for the first 8 weeks, then half the allowance after the 8 weeks (with mentorship), with access to £1,000 to support her start-up.


During the programme we heard from Danielle, who started to gain a customer base for her mural company, with commissions from local schools and community groups. However, she’s at the stage now where she is finding it difficult to generate an ongoing income from the company, and is currently looking for other work.

'I have loved this experience on the radio show and can only thank everyone involved, especially Rosemary Parr who has been my mentor through this whole process, she has been fantastic. I have spoken to her nearly every week, even when we haven’t been on air. She has given up her spare time to help me anyway she can. I intend to keep the business open and trading but I need a full time job in the meantime, just in case the business doesn’t take off. I am going to keep my options open, keep trying to find a Supervising Solicitor and in the meantime keep sending CVs and keep hoping that at some point I will get a call back for an interview.'

Read Danielle’s ideas on how to tackle youth unemployment here 

Karen, Mansfield

Karen graduated in International Management from the University of Manchester. She works weekends at her family's restaurant. Karen wants to start her own business venture in fashion and beauty for the Anglo-Asian community, or combine that with a social-media marketing agency, but isn't sure or clear how to kick-start all this.

Since graduating, Karen has been applying for graduate schemes and jobs that match her qualifications and experience. However, after sending application forms week after week, she's only had one response and one interview.

'I wish mentor programmes were more widely available to young people and students as it’s helped me gain an insight into the world of work and opened up new career options for me. This kind of experience is crucial for young people making career decisions, especially if the UK continues to have an unstable job market. I’m definitely feeling a lot more positive about getting a job than I did back in February – I had pretty much lost hope in the UK job market back then and almost left the UK permanently, but my gut told me to give the UK one last chance. Being involved with the show has given me a new found confidence, and an ambition and drive that I thought disappeared over the years has resurfaced again.'

Over the last 9 months Karen has completed various intern and work placements to bolster her on-the-job skills, and broaden her experience of working in different sectors. As part of her 4 year degree course, she spent a year as an exchange student in Singapore, and is considering moving abroad to get a job.


During the 4 months the programme ran, we heard from Karen as she was paired up with top business woman and ex-Apprentice star Claire Young, who advised Karen on the importance of self-belief, networks, CV presentation and interview skills. Karen has looked beyond the UK to find work, and during the programme Karen has secured a work placement with a London-based marketing company to enhance her CV.

Read Karen’s ideas on how to tackle youth unemployment here

Richie, Newcastle

Richie has an NVQ 3 through his local Connexions service. He didn't go to college, but through the local youth support service he became a youth inspector for Northumberland Council, inspecting local youth provision and suggesting improvements.

Last year he left his job in an IT Support centre due to personal problems, and started claiming Job Seekers Allowance. After two months on benefits, he started to see his social worker and signed up to various courses. He's recently completed a 16-week programme with Tomorrow's People, who helped him to set career goals, CV writing and interview skills. In addition, Richie is currently training with the Fairbridge charity, part of the Princes Trust, who work with disadvantaged young people. He's also volunteered in India for 3 weeks building sanitary units.

Through his work with Tomorrow's People he's now pursuing a career as an Outdoor Activities Instructor, and is starting 'An Introduction to Outdoor Learning with First Aid' course at college this September.


During the programme, we heard from Richie as we hooked him up with Tristram Mayhew, founder and Chief Gorilla of Go Ape!, the leading outdoor adventure playground in the UK. Tristram and his team invited Richie to a Go Ape! playground, to teach him the ropes of outdoor pursuits work and the realities of this vocation. His confidence grew massively over the 4 months of programming and in May, through his volunteering work, Richie was lined up to go to Zambia to pass his skills onto young people. Unfortunately due to a previous conviction he was disallowed a Visa to enter the country.

Less than 2 weeks later a replacement journey was organised for Richie to visit Cape Town in South Africa, to teach young people confidence through sports activities.


'Even qualifications don't seem to be enough. That's partly why I didn't go to college- there weren't enough incentives. I think there should be more opportunities for young people to do voluntary work to gain experience.'

Read Richie’s ideas on how to tackle youth unemployment here