August 15, 2014 - Rachel Miller
Youth unemployment has seen the largest annual fall since records began, alongside the steepest annual fall in unemployment in 25 years.
Figures published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show that the unemployment rate has fallen to 6.4%, the lowest since late 2008. Youth unemployment has fallen by 206,000 over the past year, which is the largest drop since records began in 1984, bringing it to the lowest level for nearly six years.
According to the government, schemes such as the Work Programme have contributed to the fall. The number of people in work also continues to rise – with 820,000 more people working compared with 12 months ago.
Iain Duncan Smith, secretary of state for work and pensions, said: “The government’s long-term economic plan to build a stronger economy and a fairer society is working. This is transformative, not only for these individuals and their families, but for society as a whole.”
However, Dragon’s Den star Piers Linney is calling for more to be done to create opportunities for young people. He said: “It’s encouraging to see unemployment continue to fall, but more must be done if this trend is to be sustainable, particularly for young people, who continue to make up a high percentage of the unemployment figure.”
Linney has launched workinsight.org, a not-for-profit digital platform designed to improve access to workplace experience by connecting 14–19 year-old students to employers of all sizes via their school or college.
Also this week, the CBI has published a report, Future Possible, proposing that government and schools must re-double their efforts to prepare young people for work and deliver the career options and support they need. The report calls for the creation of a network of Back to Work coordinators to support young people.
John Cridland, CBI director-general, said: “The latest figures are very upbeat, but we cannot ignore the fact that far too many young people are still out of work. Youth unemployment was rising even in the good times and is still high enough to fill Wembley Stadium over eight times. We cannot squander the talent of a generation and leave them at the back of the queue in life.”