Young people not in full-time education are now less likely to be in work than people of other ages and their prospects are declining, despite the recent recovery in the jobs market, the TUC warns in light of a new report on full employment that was published on Monday.
The TUC report, Equitable Full Employment: A jobs recovery for all, looks at employment rates for different groups – including lone parents, disabled, black and Asian employees, as well as older and poorly qualified workers – and finds that in most cases their job prospects have improved over the last 17 years. Nonetheless, these groups remain far less likely to find work than the rest of the working population.
But this improvement is not being felt by young people who aren’t in full-time education, or who have basic or no qualifications. Their prospects have deteriorated rapidly over the same period.
The job situation facing young people outside full-time education is particularly alarming, says the TUC. Back in 1998, three-quarters of young people who weren’t studying were in work – higher than the employment rate for all workers at the time (71 per cent). However, these youngsters’ job prospects fell behind that of other workers in mid-2005 and have continued to decline ever since.
The job chances of young people not in full-time education converged with workers aged 50-64 last summer – a remarkable turnaround given that they were 25 per cent more likely to be in work than older workers back in 1998.
The TUC report also shows that fewer than half of those who have no qualifications are in work, while the employment rate for those who only have basic (level 1) qualifications has fallen to around 63 per cent.
Unless action is taken, the prospects for low-skilled youngsters and unqualified people of all ages will continue to deteriorate, warns the TUC. This will make it impossible for any government to achieve full employment, despite all mainstream political parties now being committed to it.
The reduction in the ‘jobs disadvantage’ facing lone parents, disabled, black, Asian and older workers in the last two decades shows that strong growth and targeted government support can make a huge difference, says the TUC. It would like to see the government increase investment in schemes to unemployed and poorly qualified youngsters so that their fortunes can be turned around too.
The report makes a number of recommendations to help raise employment rates for young people not in full-time education, including:
- Offering targeted employment support programmes, such as a job guarantee for any young person out of work for at least six months
- Identifying low skills as a reason to provide more intensive employment support
- Establishing bodies in each industrial sector so that government, unions and employers could work together to identify skills gaps, promote decent workplace standards and fair pay.
TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “All the mainstream political parties now support unions’ long-held commitment to full employment.
“But with job prospects for many young people, and poorly qualified people of all ages, deteriorating it will be impossible for any government to achieve this goal unless radical action is taken.
“Over the last two decades, we’ve learnt that strong growth and proper investment in employment programmes can make a huge difference to people’s job chances. But ministers seem keener on kicking struggling youngsters when they’re down and removing the safety net they need to learn new skills and find work.
“We need to increase funding for employment programmes, for example by guaranteeing a job or training to any young person who’s been out of work for six months or more. Spending more money on jobs support now will save money in the long run by getting more people in work and paying taxes.”