News & Events

Thursday 09 May, 2019




  • Research from Coca-Cola European Partners and UK Youth reveals over half of 16-25 year olds cite anxiety as the key barrier to gaining employment
  • One in four Gen Zs have not found employment for at least a year after leaving education
  • Coca-Cola European Partners and UK Youth announce national launch of ‘Reach Up’ programme to equip young people with confidence, skills and experience 

Young people face new barriers in finding work and are anxious about their prospects, despite record levels of employment[1], according to a new survey.

The research, commissioned by Coca-Cola European Partners (CCEP) and UK Youth, revealed that over half (55 percent) of 16-25 year olds believe anxiety is one of the biggest barriers to securing employment. A third (31 percent) of this age group said they had experienced anxiety and depression when job hunting and it had hindered their search.

The research was commissioned to mark the completion of the first pilot phase in the Reach Up programme, an initiative aimed at empowering young people furthest from the job market and equipping them with the skills they need to secure employment. Drawing commentary from a wide range of the UK population, the research polled people aged 16 – 60, both employed and unemployed, from different backgrounds.

Despite the barriers’ impact on Generation Z’s ability to secure employment, the research revealed positively, that almost a third (30 percent) of 16-25 year olds confirmed they found employment in less than one month after leaving education. However, despite record levels of employment in the UK and year-on-year improvements in the number of young people not in employment, education or training[2], almost one in four (22 percent) revealed it has taken them at least a year to find a job.

The research also looks to demonstrate the more practical barriers that some young people face when it comes to gaining employment, besides a lack of experience or job opportunities. Being a carer, not having a driving licence and having a physical disability were among the many barriers which emerged.

Whilst the research highlights potential barriers it also shines a light on the enthusiasm of young people to progress and develop. 81 percent of respondents claimed confidence was deemed to be the characteristic which would bring the biggest advantage in gaining employment. “Flexibility in terms of where you work” was the second biggest with 59 percent of respondents agreeing, pushing – perhaps surprisingly – “having an academic record” into third place (54 percent).


The research and barriers to employability infographic can be downloaded here

Aligning with the focal areas of the research, CCEP & UK Youth’s tailored Reach Up programme was created to equip young people with skills to ready them for the workplace. The Reach Up programme aims to address some of the key issues unearthed by the research via a range of activities. These include workshops delivered by youth workers and CCEP volunteers; networking masterclasses; mock interviews; and real-life work experience through spending a day in the life of the CCEP’s Field Sales team and running their own Community Café. Following completion of the pilot programme, 80% of the group reported an increase in confidence and 94% said they had received the knowledge they needed to find a job.

CCEP is committed to an ongoing partnership with UK Youth, investing a quarter of a million pounds in four subsequent Reach Up Programmes, to be rolled out across the country in 2019. This will quadruple the size of the programme, supporting and empowering a further 160 young people across the UK.

Patrick Shaw-Brown, Director of National Programmes at UK Youth said: “We hear a great deal about mental health issues in the workplace, but it’s equally important to shine a light on the impact anxiety has when seeking employment. This research demonstrates the mounting challenges young people face when it comes to securing meaningful employment. The transition into employment is undoubtedly a tough experience for many young people, bringing with it challenges and responsibilities they may not be aware of, or equipped to cope with. Many young people don’t have, or don’t recognise that they have, the confidence or relevant experiences needed to enter the workplace. We’re proud to partner with Coca-Cola European Partners on this new programme to give young people real life experiences and the confidence to prepare them the workplace.”

Holly Firmin, GB Community Partnerships Manager, said: “At CCEP we believe in an inclusive society and diverse workforce that brings together different levels of expertise, backgrounds and perspectives. This research shows many young people are having to deal with mental health issues and often lack confidence and the key skills needed to thrive in the workplace. We understand these barriers are tough, but they are not insurmountable. Alongside UK Youth, we hope to help empower the next generation with the employability skills and confidence needed to transition into work. Our local field sales teams are based across the country and are inspired and motivated to nurture this in the local communities by providing coaching and experience”.

[1] UK labour market: February 2019, Office for National Statistics,

[1] Young people not in education, employment or training (NEET), UK: February 2019 -

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