Two-thirds of employers reject young candidates because they are unable to articulate their skills

Digital youth charity YouthNet and UBS launch Define Me - a tool aimed at helping young people better communicate with potential employers.

Ollie Drackford
Head of Marcoms


A startling number of young people (18-24 year olds) have misplaced confidence in their ability to communicate with potential employers – according to a poll commissioned by the digital youth charity YouthNet and carried out by YouGov.

According to the online poll, almost two-thirds (64%) of unemployed British young people feel confident in their abilities to express their skills when applying for a job.  However, this is at stark odds with what senior decision makers from Britain’s businesses say – with over two-thirds (66%) rejecting candidates because they are unable to articulate their skills.

The poll is released today as YouthNet launches Define Me – a free online tool, developed with the support of UBS, that helps young people identify the job-relevant skills they’ve gained and find the right words to talk about them to potential employees. Once their everyday life experience are translated, they can then be imported into applications or used in job interviews.

The poll also reveals that almost half of employers feel young applicants don’t understand what skills are required for them to be successful candidates. With only 5% of businesses feeling young candidates understand very well what skills are required. This is in conflict with how unemployed young people feel they are doing – with the majority (62%) believing they do usually understand what an employer is looking for.

Chris Martin, CEO of YouthNet says: “These findings show that many young people undervalue the skills they have and struggle to articulate them to potential employers. With over 900,000 young people not yet in employment education or training in the UK, it is vital that digital services play a central role in helping young people to shine. Tools like Define Me can provide invaluable support to young people in their journey to employment and help to bridge the gap between employers and their future workforce.”

Nick Wright, Managing Director,  Global & EMEA Community Affairs from UBS says: “Sadly these findings are not a surprise. A consensus is growing rapidly around the reasons why so many talented young people cannot convince employers to take them on. It is crucial that employers get involved and alongside government and schools, help young people to develop, recognise and describe the skills they have and which employers need.”

Among the findings:

  • 64%of unemployed 18-24 year olds in Britain are confident that they would be able to articulate their skills to a potential employer when applying for a job.
  • 60% of unemployed 18-24 year olds think that in addition to school/ university achievements and industry specific work experience, voluntary work was considered valuable by employers for candidates to have.
  • 80% of unemployed young people would go online (68%) or use social media (12%) to support them with their job application or interview preparation.
  • 66% of senior decision makers feel their organisation often or sometimes tend to reject candidates because they were unable to articulate their skills.
  • The majority (55%) of senior decision makers think that work experience unrelated to the business is valuable for candidates to have as well as education achievements and industry specific work experience

You can find out more about Define Me by visiting and about the research via the YouthNet website.


*Case studies for press and media interviews are available on request.
Media Enquiries: Oliver Drackford at YouthNet, [email protected], 07766 660 755 or via @YouthNetUK

Notes to Editors:

  • With the support of UBS, Define Me, which launches today, was co-created with a group of young people and UBS employee volunteers, with the aim to support more young people in their journey to finding work.
  • With 80% of young people using online and/or social media to support them with their job applications or interview preparation, there is a clear need and opportunity for trusted online service to support and help more young people in their search for employment.

About the poll:

  • Total sample size was 293 unemployed 18 to 24 year old adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 14th – 16th September 2015.  The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18-24).
  • Total sample size was 590 senior decision makers, excluding sole traders. Fieldwork was undertaken between 14th – 18th September 2015.  The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of business size.
  • Current UK unemployment figures for young people (16-24 year olds) stand at 922,000 for April to June 2015 (ONS stats release-Young People Not yet in Education, Employment or training, Aug 2015). This accounts for 13% of all 16-24 year olds in the UK.

About the Charity and Services

YouthNet is the charity behind online guide to life, which supports over 1.5 million 16 to 25 year olds in the UK each year. The UK’s first exclusively online charity, YouthNet creates digital solutions to ease young people’s isolation and to make their lives better.

Define Me is a new tool launched on the 7th of October by YouthNet. It aims to help young people translate their experiences into skills employers are looking for – helping them to better reveal their skills. Define Me can be accessed via and will also be free to embed on other websites.

UBS is committed to providing private, institutional and corporate clients worldwide, as well as retail clients in Switzerland, with superior financial advice and solutions while generating attractive and sustainable returns for shareholders. Its strategy centers on its Wealth Management and Wealth Management Americas businesses and its leading universal bank in Switzerland, complemented by its Global Asset Management business and its Investment Bank.

UBS is present in all major financial centres worldwide. It has offices in more than 50 countries and employs about 60,000 people around the world:


Published on 07-Oct-2015