30 something and broke

Europe is struggling. A generation is feared to be lost in unemployment and poverty. The recession in UK has affected many lives. Imran is one of them.

Not long ago, Imran had a well-paid job. - Brits care for their own first, he says and shows how skincolor has put him last in line.

The latest UK unemployment figures tell us that 2.5 million people are jobless.  The recession has hit hard; prices are going up while wages are going down, and the young population is  feeling it the most.

 Twenty-five per cent of 16-24 year olds are unemployment.  This goes up to 29% if you’re of Pakistani, Bangladeshi or Indian origin, and a massive 45% if you are Black or African Caribbean by origin.  Suddenly the London riots don’t seem such a surprise, and the new policies the Government has been franticly pushing to give young people a chance need to start working.


Lost his job in 2008

But what about the rest of us?  A close family member, who is a British born Pakistani in his 30s (let’s call him Imran), has been one of those flirting with unemployment during the last four years.

He has been snapping up any short term contract going after taking being made redundant at the end of 2008.  Sometimes travelling 120 miles a day just to get to and from work, he has been spending many hours a week in traffic, barely getting to see his two children.  When one contract ends he is looking for the next life- sucking experience.  But while he is looking he spends a couple of months at home with barely enough money to put food on the table.

With a degree and various professional qualifications alongside 12 years of career experience, you’d be asking yourself why hasn’t he got a ‘permanent’ job?


 Blames himself

Indeed he asks himself the same question after every interview he attends and fails in (he’s lost count of the number of interviews he’s faced in that time, but it’s well over 30). Sometimes, just sometimes, I wonder whether this constant rejection is purely down to his ability or if there are other dark forces at play here.

Of course, discrimination in this way is pretty much impossible to prove, but for my mind the numbers just don’t add up.

Imran himself rejects the notion, and remains admirably optimistic that something is around the corner.  For him, questioning circumstances other than his own failings and being beaten by somebody ‘better’ on the day, is just an excuse.  He feels the pressure that bit more with every interview, and that obviously won’t help.


On the other side of the table

But here’s what he does know.  In pretty much every interview he’s attended there has been not one Black or minority face on the interview panel (that’s a huge talking point in itself).  Human nature dictates that people are always going to be drawn to other people they can relate to.  Is Imran relatable to these people?

The ‘positive discrimination’ agenda doesn’t seem to be working for Imran either.  This ideal that if someone of an ethnic minority scores equally to a White British candidate then he would be offered the job.

He’s been getting used to the ‘close second’ phone calls, and wonders if the commitment to equality actually means that much.  He gets the interviews, and maybe that’s enough to tick the diversity box for these companies.


Desperate and lonly

It’s become an ultra-competitive world out there, where the most senior executives can be fighting for a junior role, and Imran’s predicament isn’t unique.  He considers himself lucky to have found work at all considering that he is so ‘unemployable’ to many other companies.  Maybe if your face doesn’t fit it becomes just that little bit harder.  After all, you look after your own first.

So it won’t be getting better any time soon for Imran or his family, who can’t plan holidays or know what the following week has in store.  And spare a thought for the long-suffering wife who just wants to give her children the best in life without wondering who’s going to buy food for the week.  It’s a desperate and often lonely situation, that tests the foundations of a marriage.