A new report from the Youth Futures Foundation titled ‘The Effectiveness of Interventions to Increase Youth Employment: An Evidence and Gap Map’ has recently been published.

The report has found that youth unemployment and low pay are persistent problems across the world. Young people are more likely to be unemployed, and they have been hit harder by the Covid-shock than others.  Young people from disadvantaged backgrounds are more likely to be unemployed than those from better off backgrounds and be paid lower wages in adulthood, especially among ethnic minority groups.

Key findings of the report include:

  • Young people typically experience higher rates of unemployment than adults. From the years 2016-2019 overall unemployment in the UK for those aged 16-64 averaged 4.4%. It was over five times that, at 24.1%, for those aged 16-17, and more than double the average, at 10.8%, for 18–24-year-olds (Figure 1). In May 2021 unemployment for those aged 18-24 stood at 11.6%.
  • Youth unemployment is concentrated in groups from marginalised backgrounds, including some ethnic minorities in England. Wide disparities in youth employment exist according to ethnic group and other measures of difference and disadvantage. In London, unemployment for young Black British people over the three years to March 2020 stood at 29%, more than double that for young White British people at 13%.

Data from 2019 for the whole of the UK showed that unemployment among ethnic groups other than White British (aged 16-24) stood at 19%, nearly double that for White British young people, at 10%.  These disparities continue to persist into adulthood.

  • Education is one route to employment and higher wages, but it is not always sufficient. Gaining a higher level of education tends to translate into better employment outcomes for most young people. Across the UK, in 2019, unemployment for those with tertiary education was 2.1%, compared to 2.8% for those with secondary education and 4.9% for those who had not completed secondary.

A recent analysis of wage disparities for those from disadvantaged backgrounds finds that education accounts for 80% of the wage gap with those from more advantaged backgrounds. The impact of Covid has also varied by education. Working hours for young people without qualifications fell by over one-third (34%) compared with just 7% for those with a degree or equivalent qualification.

But education is not always sufficient, particularly in areas of low opportunity.  In areas where administrative and managerial jobs are scarce the opportunities for advancement are few. In such areas education may not help.

To see the full Youth Futures Foundation report click here.