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Highest level of unemployment is among school leavers, says Barnardo's

School leavers aged 16 and 17 have the highest employment rate - 28% in the last quarter of 2008, and rising - according to Barnardo's.

The young people's charity also reports the number of 16 and 17 year-olds in work-based learning, including apprenticeships, has fallen by 63% in the past two decades (since 1987).

Barnardo's claims the high levels of unemployment in this age group is because 16 and 17 year-olds who leave school are more likely to be held back by poor exam results, lack of self-confidence and social skills as well as caring responsibilities.

Martin Narey, chief executive of Barnardo's, said: "Many of the young people interviewed for this research lived in workless, poor households - some where successive generations of adults have not worked. We have made some progress, not least with apprenticeships, but must do more to break the cycle of deprivation facing too many young people who believe the world of work is nothing to do with them."

The harsh news for young unemployed people comes as the TUC yesterday reported 10 dole claimants for every advertised job vacancy in the UK and, in some "blackspots", 20 claimants for every job opportunity.