Youth Unemployment

Claire Lamont examines the current employment crisis among UK young people.

The latest unemployment figures make for mixed reading. Although overall unemployment has gone down again, the new figures from the Office for Budget Responsibility predict that unemployment will actually go back up, peaking in 2014. And while that’s bad news for all of us, it’s particularly bad for the young.

Young hit hardest

Analysis of those OBR figures by the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) suggests that, as over the past three years, it will be the young who are hardest hit by the unemployment crisis. They predict that another 86,000 under-25s could be unemployed by this time next year, taking the number of unemployed young people above the significant 1 million mark.

The effects of joblessness are obviously pernicious, whatever your age, resulting in poverty and lack of self-worth. But for those who are young, just leaving school, college or university and seeking their first steps in full-time employment (and often weighed down by copious debt accrued in pursuing that education), the effects of an uneven start in employment can be devastating. A patchy CV is one thing, but the effect on general self-esteem can be brutal and hard to leave behind.


And it is not only unemployment that is affecting young people. The current employment figures hide the widespread blight of under-employment in our current economy, where people are listed as “employed” in the statistics but would be keen to work additional hours if they could. This is reflected by the fact that in the UK part-time jobs are currently at a near-record high of over 8 million.

And many young people are also employed below their skills level, particularly recent graduates. The German research organisation the Institute for the Study of Labour has found almost one quarter of graduates here are employed in non-graduate jobs three and a half years after graduating. Their report described graduate under-employment in the UK as high, persistent and not a short-term problem.

All of this means that young people today face not only unemployment, but also the risk of under-employment in terms of time and skills. Whether they are graduating from a university degree or leaving school, young people face some of the most uncertain first steps in the job market for many decades.

Make a film about it!

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