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Greg James: Why I'm proud of Young, Jobless and Living at Home

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Greg James | 12:12 UK time, Monday, 7 February 2011

Young, Jobless and Living at Home was an absolute joy to be a part of. I travelled the UK meeting a load of young people; all brilliant and interesting in their own way. Finding that first job is something everyone goes through, and I went through it not long ago myself so I felt like we had some common ground even when we first spoke. I wanted to get involved with this programme because youth unemployment is such a wide reaching problem. No matter what background you come from or how many fancy qualifications you have, the common denominator is it's flipping hard to find a job at the moment.

Young, Jobless and Living at Home (presenter Greg James)

It was fascinating to broaden my horizons and meet people from all over the country finding out what makes them tick. My Radio 1 show is all about the listeners and I love meeting the people who actually listen to it to find out all about them. To spend a good deal of time with them on this show was a treat. Yes, there were some unhappy moments and situations in parts of the film, but that's reality. We hear a lot in the news about 'youth unemployment being at the highest levels in a generation' - but what does that REALLY mean? The people affected are REAL, believe it or not. Who are these people? How do they afford to get by? What support do they have? I wanted to MEET the people affected and put a human face to the headlines.

The people involved in the show were fantastic and all made my job very easy. Well, apart from when I had to drive Leon to his job interview and he was already an hour late. Or perhaps when we had to hide round the corner so that his mum didn't see us because she still hadn't worked out that Leon had been fired from his job. Becca and Dan are a great couple - we had an interesting night shoot with that lot where we were all a bit tired and grumpy (which comes across in the show) when we were trekking to the supermarket to do the weekly shop. We got there to realise that no money had been put into their account. A wasted trip. Punam and her family are a delight and I think I've been adopted by her dad as he shares a love of cricket.

When I met 22 year old graduate Jasper, he had debts of £22, 000 and he was trying to make it in the music industry. He had a tough but fascinating journey to get there and you can watch some of it here:

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As you can see from that clip, Jasper also had a great collection of old records - one of which I borrowed to use for my show. I've just realised I haven't given it back to him yet. Sorry Jasper. And James and Chelsea are so lovely - I spent a fun afternoon at one of James' cooking courses making soup. I'm a terrible cook. (Probably why that footage didn't get used for the show.)

I am really proud with what we've done - we haven't unearthed any particular scandal for the front pages of the tabloids - that wasn't the aim - but what we have done is offered you a really insightful overview into the state of the job market for young people. The stories, on the whole, end happily and it won't leave you feeling depressed. But I hope you learn a bit about other people. Whether you find that you relate to them or you just realise how lucky you are. There's something for everyone. I didn't want to make a 'isn't everything depressing' programme - neither did I want to make a sunny and fake 'happily ever after' one. What we've made is honest and real. And I hope you enjoy it. Do let me know what you think...add your comment.

Greg James presents Young, Jobless and Living at Home tonight at 9pm.


  • Comment number 1.

    Gregory, awesome documentary, Leon was brilliant! Should we expect more similar documentaries with you presenting/reporting?

  • Comment number 2.

    Hi Greg,

    You were extremely professional, you seem to have acquired a niche career, documentary film maker. As for the youngsters featured, I think if they were taught how to look after their money, they would learn how to live on a budget, this would stand them all in good stead.

  • Comment number 3.

    Hi Greg,

    Good documentary, nice to know im not the only one whos struggling to find a job. But i got a bit frustrated because they were all from
    a big city where there are plenty of places for them to apply for jobs. Where as i cant sign on because of my age, live in the middle of nowhere, have no licence because i cant afford to pay for lessons and buses only run every 2 hours and stop early and have no job and still live at home.

  • Comment number 4.

    Really enjoyed watching the documentary - Greg you're a fab presenter - but I couldn't help feeling that too much was blamed on "the economic climate." I graduated pre-downturn (in 2005) and I had to a) do unpaid work to get skills in a competitive area; b) take some rubbish jobs, while; c) making hundreds of applications for the jobs I really wanted (and I got top GCSE and A-level grades and went to one of the top universities in the country). So not much has changed.
    I'll agree that in a downturn, jobs have become more competitive but there was little focus on whether the people you interviewed had the skills necessary to succeed in their chosen careers, compared with what was on offer by their competition, or expected of them by the industry. Example: of course a history graduate is not going to walk out of university into a music industry job, without having to get loads of relevant skills and work experience to support it!!

  • Comment number 5.

    Hey Greg -

    I think this documentary speaks the truth and i can really relate this to my life. Down here in Plymouth, a third of the city's unemployed is between the ages of 16 and 24. Myself and many of my friends are currently looking for a job and still feel the situation regarding jobs wont get any better any time soon. In addition to this the general mood between both myself and friends is quite low. I am considering moving to London soon to work.

    I have purchased a car hoping it would be a benefit to try and help me access jobs in the rural areas around the city as many people can only easily access the city centre or access pizza delivery jobs which are being noticeably advertised. Unfortunatley, for the time being, i am unable to pay for insurance, so i am in a catch 22 sitation.

    I hope your documentaries can provide me with some useful tips. I already know about the skills and personal qualities need to get a job, and feel i aquire many, however, when theres no jobs available, what can you do?

    Mikeyy :)

  • Comment number 6.

    Whilst your efforts with this documentary are commendable, there was no clear message and no real point to it other than to show young people unable to find work. In all honesty it would be very easy for other "young people" to just mull and take comfort in the fact everyone is finding it difficult to get a job.

    Herein lies the real problem. Why do people only ever want to find a job? Young people should use social networking and the "tech age" to congregate to identify new age ways of generating income. Jobs are so 20th century unless you are in the traditional industries such as law, medicine, science etc.

    Young people should be encouraged to think outside the box and not be forced into uni where in most cases all it acheives is making you a slave for the rest of your life whilst you attempt to pay off student debt. There are endless opportunities and change is all around us now. The high street is dying to online, people socialise different hence pubs are dying etc etc.

    When you are young most people do not have commitments so they should be encouraged to use that as a base to elevate themselves above just wanting money to blow on a nightout / worthless junk / lining a landlords pocket. If people are encouraged to think big it will be better for this country in the long run.

  • Comment number 7.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 8.

    I have been a qualified nurse for seven years and I went to Australia to work and when I came back I went for eight jobs and didnt get a single one. I went to London and worked for four months and I returned to Glasgow due to being home sick and I have finally got a full time job.
    I understand that unemployment affects your self confidence and worth.
    Due to working away this causes a negative point too as you are seen as unreliable, which annoys the hell out of me. It was a shock how hard it was to get a job as a nurse!, its so competitive. There should be more help for people that want to work.

  • Comment number 9.

    Great documentry well done im 23 still liveing at home and jobless so i defantly could relate to it.

  • Comment number 10.

    how can a certain couple be classed as jobless when as a fact one is working at a well known public house, and yes I know the area so the long walk could have been less had they gone to the shop just around the corner of where they live, a 5 min walk away, whilst some young are genuine you have to question what others really want from featuring in a programme like this especially when some are so well known in the area. For all the genuine out there good luck with everything you do I know its difficult but keep trying things do work out in the end.

  • Comment number 11.

    I think parts filmed in Nottingham are misleading as the girls filmed are all known to be attention seekers and were playing up to the cameras. I think the two who spoke would've been better suited to "Young Dumb & Living Off Mum" given their attitudes towards life in general, and I have 1st hand experience of their behaviour being a former "Square" regular

  • Comment number 12.

    well said iggle piggle , certain people just like to give Notts a bad name, yes there are genuine young people finding it hard, its a pity these weren't a true reflection of the people around here, a good documentry ruined by some

  • Comment number 13.

    I do think some of your bloggers have missed the picture completely. The women who talks about top universities is just so out of touch with reality. That sort of thing is old hat. She has read too much of Brideshead Revisited. Did she go to Oxbridge?

    It has been a mess for years and as for the comment on attention seekers Did they qualify as a Psychiatrist? I would like to know their medical qualifications in this area. Pop Psychology is rubbish and no help whatsoever, neither is guessing at facts or trying to diagnose when you are unqualified.

  • Comment number 14.

    Great doc Greg, was listening to your radio 1 show today, and you sounded a bit bumped that you were aired the same time as Glee in UK. Just to let you know I watched you in Holland, and lots, lots of people were glued to your doc last night. some useless infor, Glee airs tonight on Tues nights here!. Look forward to seeing more of you on TV and keep up the great reporting!

  • Comment number 15.

    Hi Greg,
    As someone aged 24 and about to possibly face redundancy I was really pleased to see a programme that tackled the issues of jobless young people in our generation. I was really fortunate to get work straight out of uni albeit on a low salary. Now, however I face the prospect of being exactly what your programme was about 'young, jobless and living at home'. I've not lived with my parents for 7 years and I never thought I'd lose my job. The way things are at the moment, I'm just going to be one statistic of many sadly.
    Thanks for highlighting a really important subject that I had begun to think people were forgetting is an issue.
    Great programme!

  • Comment number 16.

    I thought the programme reflected a selection of different circumstances very well albeit not exhaustive. It conveyed how circumstance and attitude affects your choices available to you.

    That said I do think that too much emphasis is impressed upon young people that they are hard done by because of the recession and therefore missing out. While the opportunities remsin much harder to come by, they should try not to feel that the world has ended. It happens and will again in the future to another generation.

    The conveyor belt analogy is spot on. It is rare to know what you want from a childhood age and focus on that as your career. The advantage is obviosly a pedigree of knowledge. Those that have naively travelled the education conveyor belt without any form of preparation now are stunned by what they face. Welcome to real life. All their dreams have been suspended. The dielema is sadly some will never achieve it. Everybody is using the same tactics so thinking out the box is essential. My advice would be to explore what you want and take small steps to get there. It's a long game and don't feel ashamed. The reality is both young and old are now changing careers and doing short courses. We are all in this regardless of age. Good luck and stsy positive.

  • Comment number 17.

    I caught this documentary on BBC 3 this morning and almost everything about it impressed me. A really intelligent exploration of the jobs market for young people and the hurdles they must overcome to get into work. Very sobering but not all gloomy; it certainly exploded the myth that a degree is a guaranteed passport to employment. I think this programme should be shown in all UK schools (to 14-17 year olds). Congratulations to the whole team who made it and especially to Greg James, a bright, articulate and likeable presenter who realises that you don't have to fake a cockney accent to make something interesting and relevant to young people (other presenters, please take note).

  • Comment number 18.

    I watched this Documentary after hearing you talk about your lack of views on air Greg and would like to re-iterate what many above have already stated, that this was a great success on your part in terms of presenting and informing.
    I do however wish to say that I believe the documentary wasn't as accurate a portrayal of the current situation as it could have been. The way in which many of these youngsters were described was "hard done by" due to the lack of employment, and whilst I cannot deny that this isn't the case for thousands of people at the minute, many youngsters simply have the wrong attitude and approach to employment. A great example of this was when the young father stated that there "were jobs there, but none that anyone( I ) would want to do", This is a discraceful attitude to have and is one of many reasons that many aren't employed- they think themselves above a particular post. The quote which rang true here was Greg: " what I'm realizing here is that there are jobs out there, but low skilled, low payed with unsociable hours" Well heres a reality check- If it pays, and your in need of money- take the job- despite what the job is- If not quit moaning about being unemployed!
    Another thing that frustrated me about this was the way in which Becca, Sarah and a few others were supposedly struggling to live on jobseekers allowence, yet they can afford to buy cigarrettes, jagermeister and alcohol. This is another typical issue with many youngsters in Britain- they have no sense of priorities! Also surely with the amount of time an unemployed person has on their hands they could spend some of it cleaning their flat ( I mean how hard can it be to keep one room clean and hygienic? And they then wonder why they can't get a job? ) Impressions are lasting and walking to a supermarket( a retail outlet where I'm fairly sure people are regularly employed) in your Pj's is certainly not going to give people the impression that your serious, reputable, and reliable enough to work. On this note I have the same issue with Leon he stated that " they wouldn't give him a second chance", when realistically they gave him 11 more chances :S and he still failed to improve his punctuality, and in an adult world he now has to face the consequences.
    I personally think it's too easy for youngsters to blame the current economic state for the lack of employment, I am a female of 20 years and have never had a long period of unemployement, I have however had 4 jobs since the age of 16 albeit not great jobs and am currently working as a manager in Burgerking( a low end, low skill job)whilst saving to go to university this coming October. Ive worked hard to go up the ranks within my company and now have many prospects lying ahead of me. I hope that other youngsters will do the same.
    On the other hand there were a few select people in the programme who deserve to be commended, and those are Punam,and Jasper, who all strived to gain experience and worked extreemly hard to get jobs within their fields. I think they both were the real portrayal of the situation at the moment.

  • Comment number 19.

    BakerJ424 I commend you for your focus and determination. Good luck. My view of the programme was it showed what the situation is currently and we should not replace it with our own feelings to twist the real state; If young people have a bad attitude, then that is what is real too. The programme contrasted extremes I thought. The untidy, pyjama walking desperate group to a rent free, financially secure (in the sense of having accomodation and parental support but still signed on for pocket money) who can afford to take risks to gain a career. I would hate to think how the former would end up. Contrasting attitudes, contrasting circumstances.

  • Comment number 20.

    @Chemist Blues

    did you read the part where I said I know 2 of them personally? maybe I should've put how I know them.
    I have spend a significant amount of time, in person, with Becca, Sara, and Lottie (their friend), and therefore have got a pretty good opinion of what they are like.

    On another note, I think that the problem of joblessness extends far beyond young people. It isn't just us who find it difficult to get work. I know people in their 30s and 40s with 15-20yrs work experience behind them but haven't been able to find a job due to the fact that what most employers want these days is more than what was necessary for the equivalent job when they entered the workplace.

    The advantage young people have is that they can go back to college and get extra qualifications, or go on a young apprenticeship scheme.

    A young person also has none, or very few, debts, doesn't have a house to look after, a mortgage to pay, a car to run, and doesn't have a family to feed, and can therefore accept a job with a lower wage than somebody who has to pay a mortgage and run a car. If living at home, a young person should pay board (depending on their parents) and buy any 'luxuries' they want with any money they have spare.

    I got my 1st job within a month of completing m GCSE's. It was only evenings at a supermarket, but it still gave me a wage, experience of the market place, and a bit of financial independance. I kept that job whilst I was at college and went into full time employment as soon as I'd finished my A-levels.

  • Comment number 21.

    To be fair though, as a business owner would you employ some of the people featured on there, they look as if they want to play the victim with their hoodies and run down attire coupled with the personality of a zombie. Fair play to the girl who was firing off applications left right and centre, and the lad who spent months doing unpaid work before working min wage in the music industry. It is these people who employers look for - of course they have every interest in helping the young - they are the future - but it takes two to tango, and the others featured on the programme seemed content living the way they are.

  • Comment number 22.

    I really enjoyed the style of this documentary but I felt that I couldnt relate to any of the people. Im sorry to be mean, but if you have a baby that young, and you dont have any quality will be hard.

    If you do an airy degree with few contact hours, you will sleep all day and find it hard to get out of bed, and you havent really acquired any skills to get you into an unrelated job. At least Punam was VERY proactive!!! She sets a great example for how hard to you have to work to find a job, the research you do, the time you spend doing it.

    If you leave school with nothing, and then cant be bothered to do what you can get, you arent going to keep a job.

    very bizarre collection of people. all non related to people who do specific degrees and cannot get into jobs that lead on, and no promotion to doing vocational work like NHS workers, teachers etc

  • Comment number 23.

    Thank you so much!!! This show really helped me in knowing that I'm not the only one out there!!! I'm 25 years old and just graduated from fashion. I am signing on and I hate it!!! I wish I had taken my tutors advice, when I had money, when they said "do work experience in the holidays" as now i'm regretting it... did you know you cant sign on and do FREE w/e!!! In my chosen path you NEED w/e.... how do you escape the vicious circle!!!??? how can you possibly survive doin essential w/e and not get paid or get jobseekers??? I made my partner watch it to show him I was not the only one out there even though he supports me in signing on. I have applied for so many jobs through one site they have now marked me as spam!!! Unlike Leon... we do not all sit on our arses getting the sack after 6 weeks and 'del boy'ing' our way onto courses!!! I have worked bloody hard and he made me so angry, unlike Jasper who I'm in the same boat as. I fear it may be a while till I enter the PAID job market, I just hope its not too long untill I find relevent w/e! Thank you for highlighting the fact there there is very little... if any, support (other than your college/uni)out there for graduates. 'Its not what you know but who you know' and 'not what skills you have, but how long have you been in the job', uni is not direct path to a dream job, as it used to be and if you can afford to do w/e... it seems even that is now the 'finishing school' for the eilite!


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