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868,000 youngsters out of work

A full-blown economic recovery will not solve the UK’s structural youth unemployment problem, according to a new report.

Think tank IPPR said despite steady falls in the jobless total, even among younger people, there are still 868,000 out of work 16 to 24-year-olds.

Around 700,000 workless young people have never had a job, said the report, published ahead of the latest unemployment figures.

The think tank called for every secondary school to appoint a full time careers officer to liaise with local employers.

The study showed a “mismatch” between available jobs and courses for young people, with 94,000 trained in beauty and hair last year for just 18,000 jobs.

In contrast, 123,000 were trained in the construction and engineering sectors for an advertised 275,000 jobs, it was found.

Tony Dolphin, IPPR chief economist, said: “While the last six or seven years have been particularly tough for the latest generation of young people, even before the financial crisis many of those entering the labour market for the first time were struggling to compete with older workers for jobs.

“Although there has been a sharp fall in the number of unemployed young people over the last year, it is unlikely that even a full-blown economic recovery will fully solve the UK’s structural youth unemployment problem.

“We can learn lots from countries like Germany and the Netherlands. The experience of young people across Europe shows a strong workplace-based vocational education and training system, with high employer involvement, contributes more to a smoother transition from education to work and a low rate of youth unemployment than anything else. The UK system is some way from the best in Europe.”

The new figures are expected to show another fall in unemployment and in the numbers claiming jobseeker’s allowance.

TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “While youth unemployment is now finally starting to fall, there are still over 160,000 more young people out of work than was the case six years ago.

“It will take more than economic recovery to improve young people’s labour market chances. Without more good quality apprenticeships, and a guaranteed job or high quality training place for any young person out of work longer than six months, too many young people will still be left behind.

“The Government needs to give up on its failing Youth Contract and invest in programmes that actually work.”

A Work and Pensions Department spokesperson said: “This report is misleading about the true nature of the jobs market for young people. Young people have worked hard to get their foot in the door, and with support from business, and from Government, the number of unemployed young people who aren’t working full time has dropped again to around 530,000.

“Youth employment is up, youth unemployment has been dropping for 10 months in a row and the number of young people claiming the main unemployment benefit has dropped for 31 months in a row to around 250,000.

“We know there is more to do, which is why as part of the Government’s long-term economic plan we offer a range of support to young people and businesses to help young people into the world of work so they can have the security of a regular wage.”

The DWP said the figure of 868,000 was out of date.

The correct figure was 817,000, which included full time students, said the spokesperson. The number of unemployed young people who aren’t students is 534,000, said the DWP.

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