Work Foundation report shows North East is worst affected

A study of youth unemployment has identified a number of UK “blackspots” where joblessness among 16 to 24 year olds is above 25 per cent.

The report ‘The Geography Of Youth Unemployment – A Route Map For Change’ shows that the highest youth unemployment rates were in the North East and Yorkshire and Humber.

Cities in these regions, including Middlesbrough, Bradford, Barnsley, Doncaster, Hull and Grimsby, had high levels of unemployment (above 25 per cent) among this age group.

“Rates of youth unemployment are very high in towns and cities which previously relied on traditional industries for jobs and growth, many of which have seen large reductions in employment,” according to the report produced by Lancaster University’s The Work Foundation.

“Many of these towns and cities saw little growth during the good times and have been hit hard by the recession.”

The youth unemployment map also highlights huge disparities in youth unemployment between different regions of the UK. For example rates are generally lower in the South East, East and East Midlands, with cities such as Cambridge, Luton, Reading, Worthing and Southampton reporting unemployment rates below 13 per cent.

However, even areas with “lower than average” unemployment are still a third higher than the German national average (8.6 per cent) and double that of Germany’s best performing cities – Hamburg has a rate of just 5 per cent.

The report’s map “reveals a distinctive pattern to youth unemployment rates that reflects broader patterns of labour market disadvantage”.

For example young people looking for work are often blocked from relocating to fast growing cities where their chances of finding entry level jobs are higher, because of high housing costs. And young people who leave school with only GCSE level qualifications (or less) are more than twice as likely to be unemployed than those with better qualifications.

Lizzie Crowley, head of youth unemployment programmes at The Work Foundation, said: “It is shocking that in some cities almost a third of young people are looking for work but are unable to find it. Urgent action is needed to ensure young people get the right support to either continue in school, further training or with getting a job.”

She said that as central government efforts to tackle the problem had “failed”, employers and local government needed to do more.

The report recommended local authorities set up ‘Youth Transition Partnerships’ which could bring schools, colleges, third sector organisations, and local employers together to develop tailored policy responses for each city. This would also include encouraging employers to increase apprenticeship take up, more focus on good quality work experience and offering more support to schools in providing careers guidance.

Without this intervention, backed by funding from central government, the report warned: “A generation of young people in these cities will face a bleak future in the labour market.”