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What is behind the record fall in youth unemployment?

Paystream News

Kerry Hull

Tuesday 14th Oct, 2014

A record fall in youth unemployment was recorded by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) during August 2014, but what exactly was behind this dramatic decrease?

The figures

Figures in the Labour Market Report showed that the number of young people (aged between 16 and 24) out of work fell by 206,000 over the previous 12 months, which represents the largest number of individuals finding employment since records began in 1984.

In addition, this indicated the lowest level of youth unemployment for almost six years, while the figure was also 4.5 per cent lower than in 2013.

The number of young people claiming Jobseeker's Allowance continued its 32-month fall during the month as well, with almost half a million fewer out-of-work youths applying for this benefit in 2014 compared to 2010.

Overall, the unemployment rate recorded in August 2014 showed an additional 437,000 people entered work during the previous year, with 132,000 individuals taking a new job within the past three months alone.

This was another dramatic decrease in comparison to other records, indicating the biggest fall for 25 years.

Secretary of state for work and pensions Iain Duncan Smith commented: "The government's long-term economic plan to build a stronger economy and a fairer society is working - with employment going up, record drops in youth unemployment and hundreds of thousands of people replacing their signing-on book with a wage packet."

The reasons

The fall in youth employment may be in part due to the work of the government, with Mr Duncan Smith explaining: "We have set full employment as one of our key targets, bringing security and hope to families who have lost their jobs and others who have never had jobs - we put people at the heart of the plan."

For example, the government's Work Programme has helped many people get back into work, while an increase in the promotion of schemes such as apprenticeships may also have encouraged young people into getting a job.

In addition, initiatives are in place to encourage young people to consider alternative working options, such as contracting.

There has been much media coverage given to the issue of skills gaps in many industries in the UK over recent months, emphasising the importance of young people making sure they are entering employment with coveted skills.

This issue was highlighted in a survey from the Recruitment and Employment Confederation earlier this year, which found that it was not just academic and job-related skills that employers looked for in a potential job candidate, but that 47 per cent wanted their new recruits to have a good attitude as the most important factor.

In comparison, just ten per cent cited professional experience as the element they looked for first in an applicant, while only 20 per cent said qualifications were most important.

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Mr Duncan Smith concluded: "The best way to help even more people into work is to go on delivering a plan that's creating growth and jobs."

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