The Bad News Is Youth Unemployment Is Rising
Michael Mercieca's latest blog for Huffington Post UK
The recent ONS figures for the September to November 2014 quarter show general unemployment is down. This is fantastic news, of course, and it rightly gained much positive coverage. But what’s not so great – and was not so well-reported – is that the figures also show youth unemployment is on the rise again.
Today, there are 764,000 unemployed young people aged 16-24 in the UK. This is an increase of 30,000 on the last quarter, and takes the unemployment rate for this age group up to 16.9%, from 16.0%. These are startling figures. Although we are in a better position than we were a year ago when the rate was running at 20.1%, I do still worry that not enough action is being taken right now to ensure positive results in the future.
Unemployment is a huge issue for the political media, and aside from the bald figures it’s not always easy to wade through the comment and speculation and get to the facts. A good example of this difficulty is a report published this month by the Centre for Economic and Social Inclusion on behalf of the Local Government Association. It attracted headlines including ‘Teenage dropouts failed by careers advice’, ‘Dropout generation failed by colleges’ and ‘Teenage dropouts cost £800 million a year’. What the study actually said was that too many youngsters are being failed by a national ‘bums on seats’ approach to post-16 education that funds schools and colleges based on student numbers rather than enabling them to work together to provide the right courses.