Tackling youth unemployment must remain government priority, experts warn

Tackling rising youth unemployment must remain a government priority, leading employment experts have warned.

The latest figures from the Office for National Statistics showed the number of jobless 16-to-24-year-olds had risen by 19,000 in the three months to August. The figure now stands at 945,000.

Though a portion of this increase can be attributed to full-time students looking for work, Nigel Meager, director at the Institute of Employment Studies, said youth unemployment must remain a key area for focus.

“The rise in the number of young people unemployed for over six months is particularly marked in the latest figures. This remains the crucial policy challenge for this and any future government,” he said.

The Work Foundation reacted to the latest figures by urging the government to ensure that young people have better access to further education to boost skills and employment opportunities.

Ian Brinkley, associate director, said: “The government must continue to prioritise measures to help the young, including a further expansion of the higher education sector so that every young person who could benefit from further higher education has the chance to do so.”

And employers would like to see out-of-work youths use their time learning new skills by taking on work experience jobs and getting ready for the upturn when it eventually arrives.

Samantha Weston, head of resourcing at accountancy firm Grant Thornton, added: “Young people who are currently unemployed should try to use the time to gain skills that will help when applying for jobs. Internships are a great way to gain practical work experience, however it is important to check that you will get the chance to learn useful skills and not just provide free labour for the company.”

The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development said the smaller than expected rise in unemployment, with the headline measure of joblessness remaining below 2.5 million, was due to a quarterly increase in part-time employment for women.

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