UK’s youth unemployment blackspots revealed in new report

The youth unemployment problem is so endemic in the UK that even those cities with the lowest rates are still a third higher than the German national average and double that of Germany’s best performing cities.

The report examines, ranks, and maps youth unemployment rates for 16-24 year olds across the UK’s largest towns and cities and identifies a number of youth unemployment blackspots.

It goes onto reveal that those who leave school with only GCSE level qualifications (or less) are more than twice as likely to be unemployed as those with better qualifications. And that significant barriers, such as large disparities in housing prices and private sector rents, prevent many young people from moving to rapidly growing cities where they have an improved chance of finding entry level work.

The authors also support The Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission’s recommendation to establish Youth Transition Partnerships but go on to suggest that this be led by local authorities, supported by Government with dedicated funding to develop strategic plans to tackle youth unemployment and develop clear routes to work or further training.

The paper argues that without effective, targeted action from national and local government, businesses, and educators, a generation of young people in these cities will face a bleak future in the labour market.

Policy responses need to be tailored for each city but must include: working with employers to boost apprenticeship take-up, sourcing and co-ordinating work experience places, monitoring and supporting schools in their provision of careers advice and guidance, and ensuring that adequate public transport is in place to tackle local barriers to work.

Commenting on the paper, Lizzie Crowley, head of youth unemployment programmes at The Work Foundation, said: “The UK’s youth unemployment crisis continues to affect almost a million young people – even in the recovery. It is shocking that in some cities almost a third of young people are looking for work but are unable to find it. Urgent action is needed to ensure young people get the right support to either continue in school, further training or with getting a job.

“Central Government’s top-down attempts to tackle the crisis have failed. Local government must now be tasked with setting up Youth Transition Partnerships to bring together schools, colleges, third sector organisations, and local businesses to develop tailored policy responses suitable for each city. National government must also back these partnerships by providing dedicated funding to ensure they can fulfil this duty effectively.”