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Youth unemployment must be tackled, says Federation of Small Businesses

With yesterday's Office of National Statistics (ONS) job statistics revealing the extent of youth unemployment, the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has called on the Government to support small firms in taking on young people.

There are 979,000 unemployed 16-24 year olds in the UK, yesterday's ONS figures revealed.

This figure for December 2012 to February 2013 is up by 20,000 from September to November 2012.

ONS figures also showed there were 3.66 million 16-24 year olds in employment, down 62,000 from September to November 2012.

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) said it is "disappointing" that youth unemployment has risen across the UK. "Clearly the number of young people has for too long been sitting at a million," said John Allan, chairman of the FSB.

"The FSB wants the Government to focus on supporting small firms to take on apprentices and boosting young people's employability skills." 

The youth unemployment figures were labelled "disgracefully high" by Gary Browning, CEO at HR consultancy, Penna. "The long term impact, if this trend continues, is a lost generation of young people in the workforce," Browning said.

He continued: "Not only is it bad news for the economy but young people's confidence, both personally and professionally, will be significantly impacted.

"Young people have so much to offer to the working world and businesses must realise their potential and engage with them effectively. For example, having been born in the digital era, young people can communicate and influence online communities in a way that doesn't come as naturally to older generations."

"This offers a wealth of possibilities for businesses and individuals, and this is just one of the unique skills and attributes that must be harnessed before youth unemployment rates spiral even further."

The figures also found there were 2.60 million economically inactive 16 to 24 year olds (73% were in full-time education), up 28,000 in December 2012 to February 2013 from September to November 2012.