Almost two-thirds of people who lost jobs in UK pandemic are under 25 - SYST Business

Almost two-thirds of people who lost jobs in UK pandemic are under 25

ONS figures come as report says youth unemployment could reach 1m without concerted action

People walk past a branch of Jobcentre Plus
Of all 16-24-year-olds who are currently unemployed, 74% have been unemployed for at least six months. Photograph: John Sibley/Reuters


The numbers of young people out of work in the UK have reached new highs – with young people accounting for nearly two-thirds of job losses since the pandemic, according to official figures.

The regional employment figures from the Office for National Statistics show that long-term unemployment has risen 40% over the same period to 215,000 young people out of work for six months or more. Of all 16- to 24-year-olds who are currently unemployed, 74% have been unemployed for at least six months.

It comes as a report published on Tuesday by the National Youth Agency and Youth Employment UK, seen exclusively by the Guardian, says without a fundamental change in how young people are supported, far too many will be left behind.

It would take 1,000 new jobs and training places a day to get back to pre-pandemic levels by October 2021 and avoid a 50% rise in the numbers of 16- to 24-year-olds not in employment, education or training (Neet), the report concludes.

“The government needs to be honest with young people. We simply cannot create enough job opportunities,” said Leigh Middleton, the chief executive of National Youth Agency. “Without concerted action, we fear youth unemployment could rise to over 1 million when furlough ends.”

Young people lack work experience and are low on confidence, the report states. It calls for the creation of a £300m “youth premium”, to fund a proactive youth service which would ensure that 16- to 24-year-olds can get the support they need to build their confidence and skills.

“We need to learn lessons from the 1980s, which saw a generation of young people being written off to mass unemployment. Youth work helps young people stay involved in their communities, for group activities and individual support that creates a sense of belonging, not despair,” Middleton said.

Tuesday’s figures follow official data in early March showing the sharpest quarterly rise in Neets for almost a decade . They show that 437,000 fewer 16- to 24-year-olds were in paid employment, a 10% fall in 12 months. . In all, more than half of under-25s have been furloughed or lost their jobs.

“There’s nearly half a million fewer young people in work than a year ago,” said Laura-Jane Rawlings, the chief executive of Youth Employment UK. “The pandemic has simply raised the barriers and put the hopes of thousands of young people on hold.”

The figures also highlight widespread regional variations. Unemployment among 16- to 24-year-olds is just under 10% in the south-east, yet is more than 19% in London, 18% in the West Midlands and nearly 17% in the north-east.

While the report acknowledges that government schemes such as Kickstart, which funds job placements for 16- to 24-year-olds on universal credit, can help, they are not enough.

“The drive towards job creation and training schemes … is unlikely to be sufficient in particular for areas of high deprivation, rural and remote areas with poor transport links and commutable opportunities, and for vulnerable young people furthest from the labour market,” the report states. It argues for more wraparound support for employment services, including youth workers as part of new Jobcentre Plus youth hubs.

“Traditional employment programmes do not meet the needs of many young people,” said Kevin Franks, the chief executive of Youth Focus North East. “It’s so much more than CVs and coaching for interviews. By working in groups, we create the space for discussion and reflection, and a strong foundation of support in the local community. The focus is not simply on jobs. Here, we can begin to address personal issues, their confidence and self-esteem through periods of unemployment, and support to get on to training programmes and into work.”

A Department for Work and Pensions spokesperson said: “Kickstart has created nearly 150,000 jobs across the country since it launched, with thousands of young people already started, new vacancies becoming available every day and some already in permanent roles.

“At the end of the six months young people will have the skills and experience needed to help them get their next job, and with many opportunities to work virtually, more apprenticeships and traineeships, and by expanding our network of youth hubs, we’re ensuring our help reaches as many young people as possible, wherever they are in the UK.”

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Originally published by The Guardian