WAKE up and smell the coffee.
That’s the message to young people starting out in the world of work with visions of walking straight into their dream job.
Employment minister Esther McVey has told school, college and university leavers to be realistic about their first steps on the career ladder, suggesting they should be prepared to work in entry-level roles at coffee shops and cafes before working their way up.
She said too many teenagers and young adults have unrealistic expecations of what work involves but that it’s better latte than never for full-of-beans ex-students prepared to roll up their sleeves and go full steam ahead into employment.
Her comments have been hailed as a true reflection of life in the real world by some of those in that boat in Gloucestershire.
Kieran Jones, 24, left university four years ago and has been pursuing a career in the communications industry ever since. It has involved a stint in a supermarket, a year-long apprenticeship at Gloucester City Council and plenty of graft.
Kieran, from Stroud, said: “I didn't for a second want anything to be given to me on a plate once I left university.
“Even when I became unemployed having left my studying I didn't just want to go on Job Seekers Allowance as I knew that trying to find work was a job in itself and I just had to remain patient.
“It was a few months later that I managed to get a job working in a shop. I wasn't overly keen doing it but it taught me the basics of what it’s like to be in work and why it’s important to be punctual and to learn how to deal with the public and colleagues, whether you like it or not.
“It was when I saw an opportunity to do an apprenticeship at Gloucester City Council that I could pursue what I really wanted to do and the added bonus was that I got even more qualifications.
“As long as I can find a job somewhere I don't mind, because in due course if I just apply for jobs that I really want to do I will end up doing what I really wanted to do.”
Toby Wooldridge owns Peppers cafe in Bull Lane, Gloucester, and said it’s the kind of environment that can provide a grounding for all sorts of future careers.
“It teaches you all sorts of aptitudes; turning up on time, dealing with the public, being presentable and being organised,” he said.
“We’ve interviewed a few school leavers and you can tell pretty quickly whether they are interested or not.
“I think her (Esther McVey) comments do make sense and even if you don’t want a career in catering, you can learn a lot.”
Students at Gloucestershire College have the opportunity to sign up to something called the GC Crew, which helps to boost their employability skills by getting them delivering real business briefs and organising events.
Student Rebecca Hart, 16, from Churchdown, works part-time at Gloucester Rugby around her studies in early years at the college’s Gloucester Campus.
She said: “Talking to people I wouldn’t talk to via GC Crew activites was a real challenge, but I found it really useful and know it will make me more confident and therefore better in role at work.”
Stefan Armstrong-Jones, 16 from Coleford, sold pants to a local wholesaler as part of the Pants for Poverty initiative.
He said: “I feel like I am doing something worthwhile when I’m working on projects like this at the college; I’m proud to have got a wholesale deal for our products from a local retailer.”
The latest unemployment figures, released today, show there are 2,428 people out of work in Gloucester, a drop of 627 on this time last year. In the Forest of Dean, it’s 1,037 people, 256 fewer than last year and in Stroud 1,040 people are seeking work, 408 fewer than the same period in 2013.