It is unlikely that even a full blown economic recovery will fully solve the UK's structural youth unemployment problem

Tony Dolphin, Chief Economist, The Institute for Public Policy Research

Youth unemployment is still a huge problem for the UK

1 in 7 16-24 year olds are unemployed, and 2 in 7 are economically inactive.

Although youth unemployment may be falling slightly, it is still a huge problem for the UK. For young people, the youth unemployment remains high at 13.7% which is almost three times higher than the 4.9% national average.

Hundreds of thousands of young people, with no qualifications, are facing huge socio-economic barriers and are still out of work.

We believe this is unacceptable and are committed to our vision to see an end to structural youth unemployment in the UK.

An uphill struggle and a vicious cycle.

For many young people around the UK, they face an uphill struggle from the start. Not succeeding in school at an early age (for many different reasons) means that they are often unable to find or keep jobs later on in life. All too often their situation is passed on to their own children, and so it continues. This cycle has repeated for far too long – and we now risk losing the next generation of young people and their future contributions to society.

In some parts of the country the problem is exacerbated: there are 100 local wards across the UK where between 50 and 70 per cent of young people are growing up in poverty. Poverty is often passed on from one generation to the next – there are, for example, almost 300,000 households in the UK where no adult has ever worked.

Structural youth unemployment begins at an early age.

  • Even before they start school, there is a 21 per cent achievement gap between young people living in relative poverty and the majority.
  • At age 16, there is a gap of 26 per cent between young people from low income homes and others achieving five or more A*-C GCSE passes, or equivalent
  • Young people who fail to get five good GCSEs have a greater than 25 per cent chance of being unemployed within 2 years of leaving school.

The scale of the problem is significant and predicted to get worse.

  • Over two million young people across the country face the daily reality of economic disadvantage. 
  • There are 622,000 unemployed 16-24 year olds as we speak, which equates to more than 1 in 7 young people. 
  • Almost 40% of unemployed people 
in the UK are aged 25 or under. 
  • 126,000 people aged 16 to 24 are unemployed for more than a year. Source: Youth Unemployment Statistics, House of Commons Briefing Paper, Number 5871, 20 Jan 2015. 

There are long lasting effects on physical and mental wellbeing of unemployment

For youngsters facing socio-economic barriers, unemployment can have a long-term impact on physical and mental wellbeing. Research shows that a young adult out of work for a substantial period is more likely to be unemployed and welfare-dependent later in life. On average they will spend two months a year out of work by their late 20s, and suffer from mental and physical health problems, and be more likely to get involved in anti-social behaviour and crime. 

The cost of youth unemployment in the UK is an estimated £34 billion

A recent study for the Audit Commission estimated that the lifetime cost to the UK of young people NEET was at least £12 billion in public finance costs (such as benefit payments and tax losses) and £22 billion in losses to the economy and society – in all, at least £34 billion.

Street League has a model which works to help move these young people into sustainable work 

  • In FY15/16, we supported 1281 young adults into employment, education and training through our free sport for employment programmes.
  • c. 60% (995/1685) of our participants progress into a work, training or education outcome. This compares favourably to other work programmes who do not report on their success rates.
  • 55% (387/710) of our participants sustain these outcomes for at least 6 months. This also compares favourably to the 30% average across the Government Work Programme.
"It is a great privilege to see the work being undertaken by Street League and to see the positive effect that the charity is having on young lives"

Oscar, Chelsea and Brazil Footballer

We will tackle this problem head on, using the incredible power of sport.


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