The news follows the release yesterday of figures suggesting that graduate vacancies are rising despite a reported 0.5% contraction in the UK economy in the last quarter of 2010.
The ONS —a non-ministerial government department — said that unemployment rate for graduates stood at 20% at the end of September last year, compared to 10.6% at the beginning of 2010.
The new rate is the highest in over a decade and, with overall employment rising 5.2% over the same period, suggests that unemployment among graduates has risen higher than the rest of the population.
The ONS’s statistics also suggest that there were 352,000 households in the UK in which no adults had ever worked; 1.7% of total. This is almost double the count in 1997, although the ONS calculates that 83,000 of these are houses in which all occupants are full-time students between the ages of 16 and 24.
Liz Field, chief executive of the Financial services Skills Council, said that the rise in unemployment among young people is expected to have serious knock on effects for UK economic growth in general.
"It is essential that quality vocational qualifications, such as apprenticeships be made available for new entrants and we believe to graduates in the job market," Field said. "Employer-hosted programmes could boost the skills of an entire youth generation whose current precarious outlook questions its ability to lead the country forward.
"The competitiveness of the British economy is dependent upon harnessing the talents of a rich and diverse talent pool across the UK. The onus is on businesses and education training providers to be more creative and flexible with jobseekers."