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Young People Face Unemployment “Crisis” As 88% Of Job Losses Affect Under 35s

The majority of job losses have impacted young people (Alamy)

3 min read

Labour has warned of an impending “jobs crisis” facing young people as new stats show that almost 90% of job losses in the past year affected people aged 35 and under.

Fresh figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) found that between February 2020 and February 2021, 693,000 fewer people were in paid employment in the UK.

Around 63% (437,000) of those who lost their jobs were under 25, while a further 25% were aged 25 to 34 (174,000).

Those in higher age brackets accounted for just over 16% of the figure, with only 109,000 35- to 49-year-olds losing their jobs, and just 5,000 over 65s.

The number of 50- to 64-year-olds in paid employment, meanwhile, rose by 32,000 over the same period.

Labour’s shadow work and pensions secretary Jonathan Reynolds said the figures “confirm yet again that our young people are facing a jobs crisis” as he urged the government to do more to tackle the issue. 

“Government schemes to address unemployment simply do not go far enough. Almost 90 per cent of the people who have lost their jobs are under 35, yet the Government’s struggling Kickstart scheme has created just 4,000 jobs,” he said. 

“Our young people deserve so much better - Labour’s ‘Jobs Promise’ would guarantee young people out of education or work for six months a training or job placement."

The ONS figures also revealed that over half (53%) of all job losses were attributed to employees working inhospitality, while around 18% were in the wholesale and retail trade sector.

Speaking at a Lords committee on a youth unemployment on Tuesday, Samantha Windett, Director of Policy at Impetus, said the impact had not been felt equally across young people, and indicated issues were already deep-seated, before the extra blow of the pandemic. 

“A young person who's educated in Sunwell is twice as likely to become NEET [Not in Education, Employment, or Training] as a young person educated in Solihull,” she said.

“It really is at that local level that you start to see some big differences in the life chances for young people. 

Windett continued: “It isn't a minority of those NEET young people that are long term NEET. In fact, in our data, it showed that 75% of the overall number of young people who are NEET were NEET for longer than a year. 

“A minority of those figures are short term NEET young people. So we really need to be focusing on preventing young people becoming NEET in the first place.”

The government made significant provisions for youth unemployment in the Budget published earlier this month, including £126m for the expansion of traineeships in England for the 2021-22 academic year, and doubling the funding for each new apprenticeship from £1,500 to £3000.

This was on top of the £2 billion KickStart scheme announced last year, under which the government covers the cost of a six-month work placement for 16-24 year olds at risk of long-term unemployment.

However, the initiative has faced backlash for its slow start, after it was revealed just 5,000 people have started their placements on the scheme in the six months since it launched, despite ministers promising it would create over 250,000 jobs, 

Work and pensions secretary Therese Coffey admitted to MPs two weeks ago that there had been a "backlog", but insisted that there were now "almost 150,000 roles approved" of which 30,000 were accepting applications.

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