British graduate scores in sandwich-board job hunt

Tue Sep 22, 2009 1:52pm EDT
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By Matthew Jones

LONDON (Reuters) - In a pinstripe suit, silk tie and polished shoes, David Rowe has all the trappings of a successful London city worker, except for one stark difference -- he is wearing a sandwich board that says "JOB WANTED."

As he walked down Fleet Street, home to legal firms and investment banks, the 24-year-old history graduate showed the human face behind the "lay-offs" and "recession" headlines.

"The first 20 paces are the hardest, you feel very conspicuous, but you just steel yourself to get on with it," he said, starting a slow trudge toward the Law Courts before turning toward St Paul's Cathedral.

In previous economic downturns it was manufacturing and heavy industry that were worst hit. Now in Britain, and much of the West, white collar jobs have been culled in the financial crisis -- marketing directors on six figure salaries, IT specialists with 20 years experience.

That makes it especially hard for young men and women like Rowe trying to start professional careers. For many the corporate ladder has been pulled away.

They are left with the prospect of low paid unskilled work, if they can find it, and large debts.

"I have debts of about 20,000 pounds ($32,400), and that's not excessive compared with how much some students owe when they graduate," Rowe told Reuters as he took a break from his one-man advertising campaign.

"My dad bet me I wouldn't do this (walking with a sandwich board), that I wouldn't have the guts."   Continued...

<p>Jobless university graduate David Rowe wears a sandwich board advertising his search for employment as he walks along Fleet Street in central London, September 22, 2009. REUTERS/Kieran Doherty</p>