Youth unemployment sees steepest rise in a decade

The UK has experienced the largest quarterly increase of young people not in education, employment or training (NEET) since 2011, according to Office for National Statistics (ONS).

In October to December 2020 the percentage of all young people who were NEET was estimated at 11.6%, a rise of 0.6 percentage points compared to the prior quarter and the same period in 2019.

This increase equated to an estimated 797,000 young people who were NEET in October to December 2020, an increase of 39,000 compared with July to September 2020.

This is the largest quarterly increase since July to September 2011.

​Campaign bodies are therefore calling on government to maximise incentives for employing 16 to 24-year-olds

Notably, the rise in young people NEET was almost entirely driven by economically inactive men.

The number of overall redundancies continued to fall in the quarter, and employment rose steadily yet Gerwyn Davies, senior labour market adviser for the CIPD, said that talk of a strong economic recovery from the pandemic is still premature.

Davies said: “There’s been a worrying rise in economic inactivity, which strengthens the need for more government intervention, particularly with the end of furlough in sight.”

The under 25s continue to be disproportionately affected by the economic fallout of the pandemic.

Davies added: “A plan to support young people with training and job opportunities has to be at the heart of the UK’s economic recovery.

“As employers rebuild their workforces, they must consider not only paid work though apprenticeships and jobs but also volunteering and work experience placements for young people.”

To incentivise employment of the under 25s, Davies asked government to make its support of apprenticeships, including the Kickstart Scheme, more generous and well targeted. 

Employer awareness around the benefit of Kickstart and traineeships is also needed, he argued. 

Neil Carberry, chief executive of the Recruitment & Employment Confederation (REC), supported the CIPD’s concerns.

He said: “The economy is well-placed to bounce back as restrictions are lifted – but many people will need support transitioning into the new roles that emerge.”

A radical reform of the skills system including the apprenticeship levy, which the CIPD said has now failed on every measure, would be vital Carberry added.