Government hails drop in youth unemployment

The UK unemployment rate fell to its lowest since 2008 in the three months to June, according to the latest job figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The percentage of people out of work dropped from 6.5% in the previous quarter to 6.4% (equating to just over 2 million people).

Meanwhile, the employment rate is now 73.0%; up 0.3 points on the quarter and 1.5 points on the year.

This quarter has also seen the largest annual fall in youth unemployment since records began 30 years ago. According to ONS figures, the youth unemployment rate is down 4.5 percentage points compared with one year ago; and it fell by 102,000 in this quarter alone.

However, the figures also showed that wages including bonuses fell by 0.2% — the first fall in wages since 2001. Excluding bonus payments, wages were up 0.6%.

Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Iain Duncan Smith claimed the latest statistics were “transformative”. “The Government’s long-term economic plan to build a stronger economy and a fairer society is working – with employment going up, record drops in youth unemployment and hundreds of thousands of people replacing their signing-on book with a wage packet,” he said.

However, a report from thinktank the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) has warned that even a full-blown economic recovery will not solve the country’s youth unemployment problem.

It says there is a striking mismatch between what young people are training to do and the jobs available to them. The IPPR also claims that there are lower levels of youth unemployment in countries where more vocational education options are available.

According to report author Tony Dolphin: “vocational education in England needs to be reformed so that it is held in higher esteem by employers and young people alike”. He adds that employers taking a financial stake in vocational education would increase their engagement with young people.

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