According to a recent report by the UK Commission for Unemployment and Skills (UKCES), almost a quarter of young people in the UK feel that their local area does not provide an adequate number of part-time jobs and named the problem as the biggest barrier to work.
As part of the study, students were asked about their priorities. 55% of participants claimed that they wanted to concentrate on their studies, while 34% of 16-24-year-olds blamed the current labour market for their unemployed status. The results of the UKCES study reveals that fewer young people are taking on Saturday work that ever before, with only one in five students in part-time employment while in college or studying for A-Levels. The UKCES and prominent business figures, like Fiona Kendrick, CEO of Nestle UK and Ireland and Commissioner at UKCES, have said that young people are harming their futures by not gaining valuable experience that is a “number one ‘ask’ when recruiting.”
Despite concerns, official House of Commons Library data paints a contrasting picture. It reveals that 740,000 young people aged 16-24 were unemployed in February to April 2015, down 115,000 on the previous year. Long-term unemployment (more than 12 months) also decreased by 77,000 to 165,000 since February to April 2014.
In an interview with BBC Newsbeat, Rebecca North, an 18-year-old student said: “I didn’t feel that I could set time aside to work as well as revise, do school and still have time for hobbies and socialising.”
“I do feel sometimes I’m scrounging off my parents but for me education is really important and I didn’t feel I could compromise that.”
Official figures and service providers claim that Britain’s young people have been hit worst by the recession and cuts have affected the UK’s youth since the first spending squeezes of austerity were felt in 2010. According to Trading Economics, although the youth unemployment rate has dipped well below its peak in 2012 following the recession, the current rate of 15.7% will remain largely unchanged to a forecasted 14.72% in 2020. As housing costs continue to spiral and wages fall (the median income of those ages 22-30 fell by 20% between 2007 and 2012) the UK’s 7.4 million 16-24-year-olds face a challenging future. Now that access to housing benefit for 18-21-year-olds on Jobseekers Allowance has been blocked, which is to affect around 200,000 people, business growth and an increase in stable part-time and full-time vacancies is now paramount to tackling inequality in the UK.
Experience for the young
London Mayor Boris Johnson has backed a recent London Ambitions report which outlined that every young person in London should have at least 100 hours of careers advice or experience before the age of 16 to combat a lack of career guidance. Under the current proposal, the 100 hours would consist of one-to-one sessions, discussions with employers, work experience and guidance. The report makes a clear distinction between the London labour market and the rest of the UK, citing that around 60% of all jobs in London will be degree level by 2022.
Conservative Skills Minister Nick Boles recognised the most pressing issues in a recent statement: “No young person should be left without the opportunity of a regular wage and high-quality training, that’s why we will create three million new apprenticeships over the next five years.”
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