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Getting beyond the statistics - unemployment on BBC Three

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Harry Lansdown Harry Lansdown | 12:18 UK time, Friday, 23 September 2011

BBC Three's Up For Hire logo


Unemployment from the BBC Three audience's perspective

Today, as unemployment figures for young people top the million mark, it's important to ask - how can television respond to this crisis? How can it link with radio and social media to create a debate that gets to the heart of the underlying issues? And how can we enrich the lives of our audience to help them engage with the challenges of finding work?

We are putting these questions to the test, beginning on BBC Three on Monday, October 17th, at 9pm with the series Up For Hire Live.

Working alongside BBC Learning, and Radio One, we have set up an ambitious, live series, with full online support, designed to look at all aspects of unemployment from a BBC Three audience perspective. Ultimately, we hope it will serve as a meeting point between those looking to kick start their working lives on the one hand, and on the other employers and experts about how best to help them achieve this.

The series operates on a number of levels: firstly, it aims to get beyond simple statistics and get under the skin of four unemployed people's lives and look at the issues they face. Our contributors have kindly agreed to let us film an observational documentary based on their experiences.

Up For Hire Live will introduce four characters aged between 19 and 23: Chris, Ben, Kirsty and Sasha. Two are graduates, two are not. Sasha is also a mother of two. But what unites them is they are all struggling to find full time work. So we have put them through a 'fast track career' in just two weeks: they have gone from entry level jobs at a holiday park, to each running a branch of a retail chain, to working abroad for a wedding company, to finally working alongside CEO's of some large companies.

Each night, we follow a different stage of this whirlwind experience and we meet the four in the studio as they relive the highs and lows of their extraordinary journey. We see some them struggle to make a good impression on their first day, learn how to manage a team, and negotiate contracts as they all get to push themselves to the limit. The final episode of the series catches up with the four in their search for work as they aim to put their new found skills to the test. Not only will we see if it helps them find a career path, but the BBC Three viewers will be able to gain knowledge and ideas from watching their experiences.

Paid work placements

Secondly, we have invited a number of well known companies to offer a total of 23, paid work placements to the BBC Three audience, the majority of which will each last for three months. Applications can be made via our website at www.bbc.co.uk/upforhire. It will launch from 10am, Friday 23rd September. The closing date for applying is midnight on Friday 30th. However, the site will remain live throughout October. None of the decisions on whom to hire will be made by the BBC, and all interviews will be carried out by the companies themselves.

Some of those unsuccessful candidates' will also receive feedback on their applications, so they can continue their search with increased confidence and learn from any previous mistakes. This part of the programme is not designed to expose or embarrass the individuals involved, and all unsuccessful candidates will be told privately and not on air.

Additionally, we will be hearing stories from a range of celebrities about their first jobs and any interview disasters that happened along the way. They will also be discussing how they managed to get where they are today and any key advice they would give to job-seekers wanting to get their foot on the ladder.

A forum

The aim of this television series is to offer our audiences some guidance through the challenging, complex world of work. Building on this foundation, we have created a forum on Facebook, where people who are looking for help on how to get a full-time job, can meet with employers to get a whole range of advice. This is not a recruitment site, but rather companies and experts will be on hand to offer all sorts of advice and tips around how best to find a job, when to look, how to maximise your chances, prepare for an interview etc.

This site will open on October 3rd, and will provide a way for thousands of people to get involved in arguably the most urgent issue affecting our audience. There are also a series of practical, short films on the BBC website featuring a number of industry experts. These tackle subjects such as how to fill out a CV and how to prepare for a job interview, as well as giving tips on improving your employability skills.

Presenter Richard Bacon will hit the BBC Three screens at 9pm on 17th October, and working along side him will be Radio One reporter Tina Deheley. For this week Radio One's breakfast show will also be running an Up for Hire theme and will be focussing on youth unemployment. The BBC Three programme is broadcast live each evening so Richard and Tina can respond to questions asked by the viewers immediately and the series will be as current and topical as possible.

Harry Lansdown is Commissioning Editor, Factual, Formats and Specialist Factual at BBC Three



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