Survey reveals mental health barriers for young people to securing employment.

Young and anxious.

A new survey suggests young people face new barriers in finding work and are anxious about their prospects, despite record levels of employment. The research, commissioned by Coca-Cola European Partners (CCEP) and UK Youth, revealed that over half (55 per cent) of 16-25 year olds believe anxiety is one of the biggest barriers to securing employment. A third (31 per cent) of this age group said they had experienced anxiety and depression when job hunting and it had hindered their search.

The research was commissioned to mark the completion of the first pilot phase in the Reach Up programme, an initiative aimed at empowering young people furthest from the job market and equipping them with the skills they need to secure employment. Drawing commentary from a wide range of the UK population, the research polled people aged 16 – 60, both employed and unemployed, from different backgrounds.

Despite the barriers’ impact on Generation Z’s ability to secure employment, the research revealed, positively, that almost a third (30 per cent) of 16-25 year olds confirmed they found employment in less than one month after leaving education. However, despite record levels of employment in the UK and year-on-year improvements in the number of young people not in employment, education or training, almost one in four (22 per cent) revealed it has taken them at least a year to find a job.

The research also looks to demonstrate the more practical barriers that some young people face when it comes to gaining employment, besides a lack of experience or job opportunities. Being a carer, not having a driving licence and having a physical disability were among the many barriers which emerged.

Whilst the research highlights potential barriers it also shines a light on the enthusiasm of young people to progress and develop. 81 per cent of respondents claimed confidence was deemed to be the characteristic which would bring the biggest advantage in gaining employment. “Flexibility in terms of where you work” was the second biggest with 59 per cent of respondents agreeing, pushing – perhaps surprisingly – “having an academic record” into third place (54 per cent).

Aligning with the focal areas of the research, CCEP & UK Youth’s tailored Reach Up programme was created to equip young people with skills to ready them for the workplace. The Reach Up programme aims to address some of the key issues unearthed by the research via a range of activities. These include workshops delivered by youth workers and CCEP volunteers; networking masterclasses; mock interviews; and real-life work experience through spending a day in the life of the CCEP’s Field Sales team and running their own Community Café. Following completion of the pilot programme, 80 per cent of the group reported an increase in confidence and 94 per cent said they had received the knowledge they needed to find a job.


CCEP is committed to an ongoing partnership with UK Youth, investing a quarter of a million pounds in four subsequent Reach Up Programmes, to be rolled out across the country in 2019. This will quadruple the size of the programme, supporting and empowering a further 160 young people across the UK.

“We hear a great deal about mental health issues in the workplace, but it’s equally important to shine a light on the impact anxiety has when seeking employment,” noted Patrick Shaw-Brown, director of National Programmes at UK Youth. “This research demonstrates the mounting challenges young people face when it comes to securing meaningful employment. The transition into employment is undoubtedly a tough experience for many young people, bringing with it challenges and responsibilities they may not be aware of, or equipped to cope with. Many young people don’t have, or don’t recognise that they have, the confidence or relevant experiences needed to enter the workplace. We’re proud to partner with Coca-Cola European Partners on this new programme to give young people real life experiences and the confidence to prepare them the workplace.”

Holly Firmin, GB community partnerships manager, said: “At CCEP we believe in an inclusive society and diverse workforce that brings together different levels of expertise, backgrounds and perspectives. This research shows many young people are having to deal with mental health issues and often lack confidence and the key skills needed to thrive in the workplace. We understand these barriers are tough, but they are not insurmountable. Alongside UK Youth, we hope to help empower the next generation with the employability skills and confidence needed to transition into work. Our local field sales teams are based across the country and are inspired and motivated to nurture this in the local communities by providing coaching and experience.”

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