Youth Unemployment & The Skills Gap

The unemployment rate for those aged from 16 to 24 years has been consistently higher than that for older age groups since comparable records began in 1992. Youth unemployment continues to be 2.5x times higher than the general population figure. Several employer’s surveys report on an employability skills gap that continues to effect recruitment. The labour market is fast pacing with increased integration of digital and artificial intelligence. As a result, businesses call for more adaptable, flexible and creative workforce to prepare for careers for the future.

Young People not in Education, Employment or Training


There were 783,000 (11.2%) young people (aged 16 to 24) in the UK who were not in education, employment or training (NEET)

 Labour Market Statistics


  • Unemployment for 16-24: 10.8%(down from 11.9% a year ago)
  • Unemployment for aged 16 and over: 4%(down from 4.3% a year ago)
Also see ONS report Analysis of the UK labour market – estimates of skills mismatch using measures of over and under education (release date: 17 March 2016)

Delivering the workforce for the future

By Mercer & Oliver Wyman

  • In the future, technology will be less about ‘using’ technology (technical skill), and more about ‘interacting’ with technology (interpersonal skills).
  • Rather than just managing an internal workforce, the best companies will establish and manage a talent ecosystem, comprising multiple talent pools and spanning multiple generations.
  • A new breed of jobs, requiring multiple and diverse skills, will increasingly replace role specification

Business & Education Survey

By British Chambers of Commerce

  • Two-thirds of businesses (69%) believe that secondary schools are not effective at preparing young people for work
  • Top five entry level skills that firms value most are communication (88%), literacy (69%), numeracy (64%), computer literacy (56%) and teamwork (53%
  • Firms think careers advice should include workplace experiences (64%), encounters with employers and employees (62%), and link curriculum learning to careers (45%)

Education & Skills survey

By CBI/Pearson Education

  • By far the most important factor employers weigh up when recruiting school and college leavers is their attitude to work (89%) followed by their aptitude for work (66%); these rank well ahead of formal qualifications (23%)
  • Around half of businesses are not satisfied with school leavers’ work experience (56%) and their skills in communication (50%), analysis (50%) and self-management (48%)
  • For the 14-19 age group, employers believe a top priority for schools and colleges should be developing awareness of working life with support from businesses (42%) as well as improving the quality of careers advice (42%)