The recession in the United Kingdom has had a disproportionate effect on young people's employment opportunities, rendering many of them, especially those with low-level qualifications, ensnared in insecure, low-paid work. Findings from two multinational private sector company case studies, incorporating the perspectives of management staff, young people working within them, career support service practitioners and Jobcentre Plus managers, reveal that many young people want to work, but have difficulty in finding and retaining paid employment. Previously NEET (not in employment, education or training) young people, especially those from lower socio-economic backgrounds, tend to access work via informal pathways and obtain knowledge about the workplace via informal means, rendering them less likely to gain and retain secure, well-paid employment. Private sector employers, career guidance and support practices are progressively moving towards more formal routes of gaining and retaining staff. Integrated, holistic systems that support both the young person and employer are required to help previously NEET young people secure relevant job opportunities.