Around 700,000 young people in Britain have never had a job, according to research published by the IPPR ahead of the latest official unemployment figures.
The report says that a “mismatch” between available jobs and educational courses for 16 to 24-year-olds is putting young people at a disadvantage in a highly competitive jobs market.
In total around 868,000 young people in Britain remain out of work, despite of the recent economic up-turn and Government attempts to cut youth unemployment.
The think tank has called on the Tory-led coalition to follow the example set by Germany and the Netherlands, where a high focus on vocational education and employer involvement has led to a low rate of youth unemployment. Secondary schools should also hire full-time career advisers, the IPPR said.
According to the research, there are 94,000 young people trained in beauty with only 18,000 jobs on offer in the sector. This compares to 123,000 trained in engineering and construction, where there are around 275,000 advertised job vacancies.
Despite a recent fall in youth unemployed, Britain’s young people are still struggling to compete against older workers. This comes at the same time as employers say that they are finding it increasingly more difficult to find staff with the right skills.
Tony Dolphin, IPPR chief economist, told the Press Association (PA):
“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.”
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 spokesperson for the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) 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.”