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Youth unemployment is 'corrosive'

Youth unemployment is not a problem that's confined to the UK. Nor is it something that has just appeared since the economic downturn. It's a perennial and Europe-wide phenomenon, to do with the complex interaction between age, skills, experience, training opportunities, and national and international trends in the labour market.

Most European countries are experiencing high rates of youth unemployment, and the UK is no exception. The economic downturn has not helped matters, but in the UK youth unemployment is a chronic issue. It has not fallen below 500,000 in the last 30 years, during which time the unemployment rate is invariably higher for young people than for the population taken as a whole.

In the UK, more than a million under 24s are 'not in employment, education or training' - that's more than one in seven young people. The picture is similarly grim for 25- to 34-year-olds who left school at 16. Almost one in five (19 per cent) of them is now unemployed, a figure that has risen from 9 per cent in 2000.

Contrary to stories that periodically appear in some sections of the press, nine out of ten unemployed young people aspire to be in work, education or training. Applications for apprenticeships have shot up over the last year, and each vacancy now attracts on average 11 applications.

According to a survey by the University and College Union, a third of respondents are so disheartened they feel they have 'no chance' of ever getting a job. A third of respondents said they 'rarely leave the house', a third said they had 'suffered depression', and two in five feel they are 'not part of society'.

An expert said that the research illustrated 'the corrosive effect that unemployment can have on a young person's confidence, motivation, and their view of the future'.

With many saying lack of experience and confidence were barriers to work, almost three-quarters said with the right support they could contribute 'a lot to this country'.

Several studies have highlighted employers' 'frustration' with school leavers, saying that many are not readily employable, because they lack basic skills and have little grasp of the expectations of the workplace.

Commentators say far-reaching changes are needed both to equip young people for the workplace, and change some employers' misperceptions about young people.

Acas provides comprehensive training for employers on Recruitment issues, and runs a practical one-day event session, Human Resource Management for Beginners, covering all the fundamentals about finding the right people and getting the most from them.

Visit the Acas Training Courses, Workshops and Projects page for more information.

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