When Michael Royce contacted The Independent last month to tell us about his struggle to find employment, he felt as if he was just another member of a "lost generation" of graduates. Fluent in French and German with a "bit of Spanish", and armed with a merit in an International Relations master's degree, he nevertheless found himself trying to make ends meet with odd jobs from agencies whose contracts lasted just one week.
But after an article about him appeared in the paper, his fortunes changed. A director at a global media firm read his story, and thought he looked like a "bright" new talent.
"One of the global directors saw the case study in The Independent and got in touch, and we took it from there," Mr Royce said. "He said they might have something that's of interest, so I did a bit of research and sent in my CV for an interview." After performing well in two interviews and a maths test, he was offered a job. "I'm loving it," the 26-year-old said. "I'm an accountability analyst for Omnicom Media Group, a holding company for media agencies. Our group is responsible for managing clients' expectations – big-blue chip names like Apple and Hewlett Packard."
His boss Mark Gallagher added: "He seemed perfect."
Although Mr Royce has managed to secure a full-time position, there are still 2.63 million unemployed people in the UK. The Office for National Statistics reported this week that the unemployment rate fell by 45,000 in the first three months of this year, but said the outlook for jobseekers remains "really worrying".
Though the number of people in work rose by 105,000 to almost 30 million, that increase was fuelled by part-time workers, the ONS said, many of whom are likely to be engaged in the kind of odd jobs that kept Mr Royce afloat between November and May this year.
"At Prime Minister's Questions, David Cameron said there were 40,000 fewer people in unemployment, but that's not that significant when there are 2.6 million out of employment," Mr Royce said.
"You keep hearing about a lost generation, and I'm inclined to agree. If there is a lost generation, then I definitely felt that I was part of it. I have so many classmates from my master's degree – and you don't get a master's without something going for you – and a lot are struggling to find work."
Even when there are jobs available, they're not the kind that allow for any real quality of life, he continued.
"For people my age, for graduates, the competition is now so stiff that companies can turn round and take advantage. Starting salaries for jobs in London can be as low as £12,000 because people are so desperate, but you can't live in London for that amount. You see the bright lights of London and you have to shut your curtains."
While the Bank of England's Governor Sir Mervyn King said the latest employment statistics demonstrated a gradual recovery in the UK economy, David Cameron was less upbeat.
Although he "welcomed" the news, he added: "We are not remotely complacent about this because, although there is good news about youth unemployment and the claimant count coming down, there are still too many people in part-time work who want full-time work, and also we still have the challenge of tackling long-term unemployment." In the longer term, a recent analysis by the Institute for Public Policy Research foresaw gloomy times ahead, with a further 100,000 people expected to be out of work by the autumn.
Mr Royce hated being unemployed. "It was incredibly frustrating, there's no other word for it."Reuse content