The recession has led to significant rises in the number of unemployed young people across the UK.
But according to a new report from the Commission for Rural Communities (CRC), the workplace inclusion of those living in the countryside has seen a particularly sharp decline since the start of the economic downturn.
It found that since the start of the financial crisis in 2007, the proportion of young people not in education, training or employment (Neets) in rural areas has increased by more than a third, compared to a rise of one-fifth in urban areas.
This could be down to a number of factors, including high transportation costs in the countryside making it more expensive for young people to commute to a place of work or education, as well as the high cost to companies of delivering employment or training in less urban environments.
Dr Stuart Burgess, chairman of the CRC, hopes the report will “shine a light on one of the most important issues facing England’s rural areas – the future of its young people”.
He added: “The high number of young Neets across the country is clearly a matter of considerable concern for young people, communities and policy makers. I hope this report will be a catalyst for addressing the range of uniquely intractable barriers those in rural areas face.”
The CRC is now calling for the creation of a government minister for youth services to focus specifically on the issues facing young people across the UK.
“Currently there is no clear, overarching responsibility across government for securing the development and employment of young people in rural areas,” said the report.
“Consequently, insufficient consideration is being given to addressing the additional challenges associated with this in a coordinated and strategic way.”