What challenges do young adult carers face in employment?
Young adult carers aged 16-18 are twice as likely to be not in education, employment, or training (NEET) as their peers without caring responsibilities due to the additional challenges they face in the workplace and their caring role.
It is likely that you have carers working alongside you in your job although you might not know it. Some signs that your college may be a carer are:
- being late
- high levels of absence
Vulnerable to unemployment
Young adult carers are particularly vulnerable to periods of unemployment because of their caring responsibilities which can be misunderstood by employers. This is particularly difficult when a young adult carer is at the outset of their career and has not yet had the opportunity to establish themselves or their capabilities professionally.
In 2014 Carers Trust published research into the experiences of young adult carers in employment or training. Young adult carers gain many skills through their caring role for example budgeting, prioritising, increased empathy and deeper understanding of others.
However, young adult cares are struggling to put these skills into practice because of the demands placed on them due to their caring role. On average, the young adult carers that Carers Trust surveyed were absent from work for the equivalent of 17 days per year, and were late or had to leave early on approximately 79 days per year because of their caring responsibilities.
Young adult carers are communicating their situation to their managers but few offer support. 67% of the young adult carers surveyed informed their manager of their caring role but 41% reported that their managers have not been supportive.
Based on these statistics, it is not surprising that young adult carers often choose flexible work that is based close to the person they care for to minimise the potential for disruption to their working lives. Although understandable, the tight criteria on potential jobs leaves them vulnerable to periods of unemployment.
Young adult carers have reported that they do not get clear careers advice that takes the skills gained from their caring role into account. Again, this means that their employment choices are restricted.
Young adult carers experiences of employment
Terry is 20 years old and dreams of opening his own restaurant and becoming a chef. Terry cares for his father and he is determined to make his Dad proud and achieve his goals, even if they do get side-lined at times. He has been caring for his father since he was a small child and was supported by a young carer’s project until he was 18 when he moved to a young adult carer’s project.
Terry has worked a few jobs off and on but has had great difficulty in maintaining stable employment because of his caring role.
He has made his employers aware of his caring role, even going so far as to introduce his managers to his father. His manager said that Terry could take time off if he needed to care for his father.
Terry’s father was suddenly taken to hospital with a life threatening condition so Terry called his employer to tell them that he was unable to come into work. His employer was understanding on the telephone but when he returned to work the next week, Terry found he had half the number of shifts he would normally expect. Eventually Terry had to leave because he could not support himself on the low number of shifts he was offered.
Terry believes that this was because he had to put his caring role first.
How you can support young adult carers in employment