Youth unemployment highly regionalised, report shows

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The job hunt is not always a pleasant experience
The huge disparity in youth unemployment rates across the UK has been laid bare by a new report that found over a quarter of 16- to 24-year-olds in Bradford, Middlesbrough, Swansea and Wolverhampton are now unemployed.

The study commissioned by the accountancy firm EY found youth unemployment rates range from 18.3 percent in north-east England to 11.2 percent in the east of England. Coventry had one of the lowest youth unemployment rates out of the 48 UK cities reviewed, at just 8.2 percent.

The study found youth unemployment rates vary far more around the country than overall rates of employment.

Young people find it significantly harder to find work than their older peers in the east Midlands, where Leicester’s 23.6% youth unemployment rate was more than double the average for all workers.

Youth employment levels declined by 166,000 from 2004 to 2015, the report found, with the biggest fall – 28% – seen in the manufacturing sector over the same period. In the last decade, the construction, financial and business sectors have also reduced their employment of young people – those aged under 24.

The two sectors that currently employ the highest proportions of young people – hotels and restaurants – are still set to grow, researchers concluded. It forecasts that between 2015 and 2030 the UK’s employment in these areas will grow by an average of 0.4% a year, meaning more roles.

Mark Gregory, EY’s chief economist, said:

“Youth unemployment rates have fallen from the peaks we saw during the recession, when 40% of the UK’s 16- to 17-year-olds were facing unemployment. However, a stubbornly high number of young people remain excluded from the labour market, which could be further exacerbated by a period of weaker economic growth in these uncertain times ahead. History has shown us that young people are more exposed to economic volatility and industry restructuring than the population as a whole.”

He said the skills agenda is fast becoming one of the biggest priorities for UK business, with Brexit also likely to impose some restrictions to the free movement of labour in the future.

“It has never been more important to ensure the UK has the right mix of skills and talent, both nationally and locally, and young people are core to this,” he said.

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