One million young people remain jobless in the UK
Youth unemployment in our capital city has soared to crisis proportions not seen for a generation. One in four young people aged 16 to 24 is unemployed rising to 27 per cent among young men — a total of 120,000 in all — and nearly triple the average London unemployment rate of 8.9 per cent. Together with Yorkshire, London suffers, at 25 per cent, the worst youth unemployment rate in the UK, according to figures released by the Office for National Statistics. There is no doubt that our young people have borne the brunt of the economic crisis. Among London’s black and Asian youth, the problem is far worse. Nowhere is the issue more acute than in the Olympic boroughs of Tower Hamlets and Newham, which have among the highest number of young people claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance in the capital.
The latest research from The Work Foundation, an independent think tank, indicates it is not age, per se, that is the problem — young people tend to be better at IT and at picking up foreign languages.
Rather it comes down to one critical factor — lack of experience. “Young people,” they report, “find themselves caught in a classic Catch 22 situation: they cannot get a job without work experience, and they cannot get work experience without a job.” Measures that help young people bridge the experience gap, such as apprenticeship schemes, could be a key part of the solution.
Country-wide, just over one million young people remain jobless. The Government’s £1 billion Youth Contract to address “the missing million” was introduced this year to offer employers small cash incentives to get young people into work.
A report released today by the Work and Pensions committee concludes that while it is a step in the right direction, it is “insufficient on its own, given the scale of the problem”. What is clear is that we need some can-do urgency from the Government and the private sector if we are to avert economic and social catastrophe.