Youth unemployment in the United Kingdom

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Youth unemployment in the United Kingdom is the level of unemployment among young people, typically defined as those aged 18–25. A related concept is graduate unemployment which is the level of unemployment among university graduates. Statistics for June 2010 show that there are 926,000 young people under the age of 25 who are unemployed which equates to an unemployment rate of 19.6% among young people.[1] This is the highest youth unemployment rate in 17 years.[2] In November 2011 youth unemployment hit 1.02 million.[3] The high levels of youth unemployment in the United Kingdom have led some politicians and media commentators to talk of a "lost generation".[4][5][6][7]



In August 2012, The Trade Union Congress stated that the level of young people not in employment, training or study it at its highest level since October 1994.[8] Statistics from the Institute for Public Policy Research show that youth unemployment is highest among black people.[9] 18.5% of boys aged 18 and 15.3% of girls are ‘Neets’, or ‘not in education, employment or training’.[10]


There is debate as to the causes of youth unemployment. For example Tim Worstall of the free-market Adam Smith Institute has argued that the introduction of minimum wage legislation in the United Kingdom has contributed to youth unemployment by increasing the wage bill for firms.[11] Some of the causes of youth unemployment in the United Kingdom are not specific to young people.[12] Widely cited causes of youth unemployment in the United Kingdom include:


Youth unemployment increases the chance of a worker experiencing unemployment in adulthood.[16] Some have linked the London riots of 2011 with the high level of youth unemployment.[17]


Those under 25 years old are entitled to £56.25 a week in Job Seeker's Allowance a lower amount than for over 25s.In economic terms youth unemployment equates to £10m a day in lost productivity[18] and the total direct cost of youth unemployment is £4.7bn a year.[19] Unemployment for over six months while a teenager also increases the chances of an individual being unemployed in adulthood.[20]


Many young people are underemployed.[21] In July 2012 The Telegraph reported that Scottish Job Centres were advising graduates to take survival jobs in areas such as cleaning and to omit their degrees because they may deter future employers.[22] The Graduate Fog website reports that one in five graduates want to work more hours than their employer can offer.[23] According to the Trade Union Congress 13% of young women and 10% of young men are underemployed something they call "alarming" and a "critical waste of talent".[23]

Mental health

A 2010 report by The Prince's Trust[24] highlighted that youth unemployment can have a negative impact on the mental health of young people and that it is a risk factor in suicide and attempted suicide.[25] According to the report that was carried out by interviewing 2,170 young people aged 16 to 25[26] 48% of individuals suffered insomnia, depression and panic attacks due to being unemployed[24] and that individuals were twice as likely to self-harm or suffer panic attacks if they had been unemployed for over a year.[26] In 2010 it was a reported that a graduate committed suicide after a two year search for work was unsuccessful.[27] The impact has also been expected to extend into future employment opportunities, as many youth become extremely risk-averse to future opportunities.


A survey by Student Currency Exchange found that half of young people aged 18–25 they surveyed were 'seriously considering' emigrating in order to find work.[28][29]


The Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government have abolished the Labour Party's Future Jobs Fund and replaced it with an apprenticeship scheme.[30] The Recruitment and Employment Confederation have proposed an overhaul of school's career guidance and a drive to increase apprenticeships.[19]

Dominic Raab called for the National Minimum Wage to be scrapped for 16-21 year olds in order to boost youth employment,[31] though doubts were raised as to whether or not this would be an effective measure.[32]

The Labour Party have called for a tax on bankers' bonuses in order to help fund a job scheme for the young unemployed.[33]


The Coalition government have also implemented workfare programmes for the long term unemployed. In 2012 a University graduate Cait Reilly took the Department of Work and Pensions to Court arguing that the scheme whereby she had to work "for free" in Poundland in order to keep her benefits was a breach of the European Court of Human Right's prohibition on slavery.[34] The Department of Work and Pensions won the case.

In London the Conservative Mayor of London Boris Johnson has launched a workfare scheme for those who have less than six months of national insurance contributions. 6,000 individuals aged 16–24 must undertake 13 weeks of unpaid work in order to claim their £56-per-week Job Seekers' Allowance.[35]

See also


  1. ^ "Dole queue beckons for Britain's young | David Blanchflower | Comment is free |". London: Guardian. 2010-06-20. Retrieved 2010-07-13. 
  2. ^ "Expats exit grim UK". 2010-07-08. Retrieved 2010-07-13. 
  3. ^ Allen, Katie (2011-11-16). "Youth unemployment hits 1 million". The Guardian (London). 
  4. ^ Jane Scott Paul: Youth Unemployment and the 'Lost Generation'
  5. ^
  6. ^ This lost generation will cost us more than the cuts save | Polly Toynbee | Comment is free | The Guardian
  7. ^ ‘Lost generation’ fears as youth jobless rate reaches 49 per cent - News - The Southern Reporter
  8. ^
  9. ^ "Half of young black people unemployed, says report". BBC News. 2010-01-20. Retrieved 2010-07-13. 
  10. ^ Laura Clark (2010-06-23). "One in five 18-year-old boys living on benefits as number of Neets soars to highest in 25 years | Mail Online". London: Retrieved 2010-07-13. 
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^ O'grady, Sean (2010-07-07). "Young workers to be hardest hit as public sector cuts back - Business News, Business". London: The Independent. Retrieved 2010-07-13. 
  14. ^ [1][dead link]
  15. ^ Reasons for Youth Unemployment | Economics Blog
  16. ^ "Youth unemployment 'a national crisis' - Channel 4 News". 2010-02-17. Retrieved 2010-07-13. 
  17. ^ London Riots 2011: Youth Unemployment at Heart of Problem - International Business Times
  18. ^ 11 Jul 2010, 3:35PM (2010-07-11). "Don't consign a generation of young men to the scrapheap | The big issue | From the Observer | The Observer". London: Guardian. Retrieved 2010-07-13. 
  19. ^ a b Monaghan, Angela (2010-07-03). "UK must avoid a 'lost generation' of jobless". London: Telegraph. Retrieved 2010-07-13. 
  20. ^
  21. ^ Cassidy, Sarah (2010-06-12). "Recent graduates employ new tactics to tackle the job market - Education News, Education". London: The Independent. Retrieved 2010-07-13. 
  22. ^
  23. ^ a b
  24. ^ a b
  25. ^ Young unemployed recession victims also suffer from mental health issues | Society |
  26. ^ a b
  27. ^ Jobseeker, 21, commits suicide after two year search for work | Graduate Fog
  28. ^
  29. ^
  30. ^ "Coalition is cavalier on unemployment | Chuka Umunna | Comment is free |". London: Guardian. 2010-06-30. Retrieved 2010-07-13. 
  31. ^ Dominic Raab MP: Red-tape in business is socially unjust, as well as being economically uncompetitive Comment
  32. ^ Should we abolish the National Minimum Wage for young people?
  33. ^
  34. ^ Judge rejects 'slave labour' claim over Poundland work experience scheme - Telegraph
  35. ^

External links