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Work experience a 'postcode lottery' for young people

Employers in some areas of the country are much more likely to offer work experience than in others, according to research by the UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES).

The report, Catch 16-24: Youth Unemployment Challenge, found that 66% of businesses say experience is critical when recruiting new staff.

However, in the Humber for example, which has high levels of unemployment for people aged 16 to 25, only 29% of employers offered work experience.

Other areas with low levels of work experience on offer included Cumbria, Leicester, Sheffield, Wiltshire, and Stoke-on-Trent.

By contrast, Liverpool, Greater Birmingham and Solihull all have a high proportion of employers offering work experience, and significantly lower levels of youth unemployment.

UKCES commissioner and chief executive of Nestlé UK and Ireland Fiona Kendrick said this creates a “catch 22 situation” for young people.

“They can’t get the experience to get a job, and they can’t get a job without the experience,” she said.

UKCES chief executive Michael Davis added: "Young people are already facing increasingly difficult conditions finding their way into the workplace, and the news that these factors can be further compounded based simply on location is disheartening.

“Contact with the world of work should be a component of all young people’s educational experience, and all schools and colleges should have links with at least one local business. That’s not altruism – it’s essential if we’re to create the skilled workers all businesses need to survive and thrive."

The report builds on results of the UKCES Employer Perspectives Survey, which interviewed more than 18,000 employers across the UK and uses data from the Office for National Statistics.