A lack of the right skills and qualifications is leading Britons to lose confidence in their abilities and limit their job prospects, according to ‘The Work Confident Report’ launched by learndirect. This lack of confidence has left two thirds of the unemployed feeling there is no hope of getting back into the world of work, with 70% admitting they feel ‘trapped’ by the endless job hunt cycle. As a result the UK’s unemployed are feeling de-motivated and drained.

These findings come on the day the Office for National Statistics releases the latest unemployment figures for the UK. The report shows more than a quarter (27%) of the unemployed surveyed have been rejected for more than 20 job positions because they lack the right skills and qualifications and two thirds (66%) of job seekers have lost faith in their ability and are going for lower paid positions to get back into employment. For those in work, 26% said they had missed out on promotions in their current workplace because others were more qualified.

Professor Cooper said: “It’s clear from the research the nation’s confidence has drastically plummeted as a result of unsuccessful job searches. Worryingly this is impacting their emotional wellbeing. It is therefore more vital than ever people feel ‘work confident’ enough in their own skills and ability to face the job search head on. learndirect’s Make It Count Week is a great way of encouraging and inspiring people to gain the skills needed in today’s tough job market. Gaining qualifications can help get people out of the vicious job search cycle and give them a much needed confidence boost which will help improve their job prospects.”

The report highlights three key areas that were identified as issues for both the unemployed and employed when it came to the job search:

The UK’s crisis of confidence
• A quarter of people in work and two thirds of those seeking work feel less confident than they did a year ago about their work prospects as the continuing job search takes its toll.
• This crisis of confidence can be directly linked to qualification levels with around half (51%) of the unemployed saying they don’t feel confident that the skills or qualifications they have will get them back into the workplace

Job hunting blues
• The long period of unsuccessful job interviews has led more than two thirds (70%) to feel ‘trapped’ by the endless job hunt cycle and (66%) finding it hard to stay motivated enough to keep on searching for work.
• For those in work, 72% don’t feel they have the required skills to get ahead at work, leading them to feel stuck in a career rut.

Lack of employer support and the cost barrier
• 64% of people in work wish they had more skills or qualifications to offer current or prospective employers, however 35% of people in work state their biggest barrier to learning is that they aren’t offered employee training.
• For those already out of work, the perceived cost of training is the biggest barrier

Make it Count Week has been developed to help break down barriers and encourage people to learn new skills and get the qualifications they need to improve their job prospects and their life.

Sarah Jones, Chief Executive of learndirect, said: “The fact that 96% of Britain’s unemployed don’t think there are any jobs suitable for the skills they possess is shocking and shows there is still work to be done to help people get the qualifications they need. We wanted to highlight the negative impact a lack of skills and qualifications has on the job hunt – both in terms of job seekers’ success rates but also, perhaps more importantly, on their social and emotional wellbeing – and provide advice and guidance to help.

“Make it Count Week, led by learndirect and supported by partners including the National Apprenticeship Service, totaljobs and Centrepoint, is all about inspiring and helping more people than ever before to use learning to get work confident. We’re also calling on employers to do their bit and think about what they can do to help motivate their workforce with training opportunities. There are some really inspirational examples out there of individuals who have become work confident through training and we hope that more people sign up to learning and experience this for themselves.”

About the research:
YouGov was commissioned by learndirect to survey unemployed people (n=1,023) and people in work (n=1,173) living in Britain today to understand their views on the impact a lack of skills and qualifications has on their hunt for jobs or progress within a company. The research took place between 8 – 12 August 2011.