School-leavers look to the Continent for work

SCHOOL-LEAVERS hit hard by the recession are looking to continental Europe for work, raising the prospect of a 'youth drain', according to a survey published yesterday.

Only one in five of 16 to 17-year- olds questioned who left school this year to find work got a job but three-quarters would consider working on the Continent 'if the right job came along'.

Dr David Lewis, a consumer psychologist, who followed the study, commissioned by the bank, TSB, said it showed that Europe was replacing America as the focus of 'Eurokids'.

'It's not just people saying 'things are so awful here they can't be that bad in France' or 'I enjoyed grape picking in Italy this summer, maybe I could get a job there', it is more than that. Young Europeans are beginning to treat Europe as an occupational smorgasbord, thinking perhaps that they could work here and there.'

Homogeneous 'tele-culture' - cable and satellite channels such as MTV and Eurosport - had helped to forge a 'common language of youth culture' among Europeans.

'I'm not saying the lights are going out all over the US but the fascination with American cultural icons is fading and the lights are starting to come on in Europe. Europe is no longer a place where people talk a funny language, eat strange food and you go to get a suntan. The young are much quicker to appreciate the benefits of integration.'

Young people in the North and Scotland are more enthusiastic about working on the Continent than southerners, the survey shows. The South, Dr Lewis suggested, was 'comfortable, cocooned' while in the North, recession was 'nothing new'.

The Research Business questioned a representative sample of 300 fifth-formers in March/April, before they had left school. Half were re-interviewed last month.

Of the 8 out of 10 who did not find a job, nearly half went back to school or college 'to sit out the recession'.