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Hot topic: youth unemployment and a lost generation, part 2

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In part two of this discussion, Lizzie Crowley, head of youth unemployment programmes at the Work Foundation gives her view. She warns that policymakers must not be complacent.

Following the House of Lords committee’s warning, the latest youth unemployment data paints a more optimistic picture: for the first time since the start of the recovery, youth unemployment has fallen at a faster rate than that of the working age population. Despite this, policymakers must guard against complacency. 

High youth unemployment pre-dates the recession, and a jobs recovery alone will not solve the crisis.  We know from previous recessions that a period of unemployment when you are young can have negative consequences on your career prospects. Young unemployed people are more likely to find themselves unemployed again in the future and have a reduced earnings potential. 

Alongside costs to the individual, there are also large costs to the public purse, which will be compounded each year in terms of future benefit payments and lost output.Unless young people are supported to overcome the disadvantage of entering the labour market in a recession, both young people and society will suffer. That’s why The Work Foundation’s Missing Million programme has recommended that businesses, third-sector organisations, educators and Government work together to ensure that young people have the opportunities to enter, sustain and progress in work. This means ensuring young people receive quality careers advice; have the opportunity to gain valuable work experience; and that there are strong vocational pathways in place with real opportunities for in-work progression. 

No single agency can solve the crisis alone. Without urgent and co-ordinated action from business, policymakers and educators, this generation faces an uncertain future.   

Lizzie Crowley is head of youth unemployment programmes at The Work Foundation