Youth unemployment on the rise despite apprenticeship initiatives

Youth unemployment rose by 22,000 in the three months leading up to December 2011, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The unemployment rate for people aged 16 to 24 rose to 22.2 per cent in the quarter, an increase of 0.3 percentage points from July to September 2011.

The labour market statistics, published today, show there were 1.04 million unemployed young people in the three months leading up to December 2011.

The figure decreases to 731,000, however, if learners in full-time education are removed.

David Miliband MP said: “Today’s rise in youth unemployment strengthens the case for action on this tragic issue.

“We now know that the cost of current levels of youth unemployment is going to be close to £30 billion over the next decade.

“I again call on the government to double its proposed number of wage subsidies for employers taking on young people this year, offer a part time job guarantee to prevent long term unemployment becoming lifetime under-employment, and open up access to apprenticeships of higher quality and consistency.”

The total jobless figure is now at 2.67 million, up 48,000 on the previous quarter and 179,000 from the same time last year.

The government has launched a number of initiatives to try and combat youth unemployment, including a £1,500 cash incentive for small businesses to take on a new apprentice.

Simon Waugh, chief executive of the National Apprenticeship Service (NAS), says apprenticeships shouldn’t be seen as a vehicle for putting young people back into work.

Mr Waugh told the Guardian: “Apprenticeships are not about unemployment.

“These are real jobs that exist anyway and this is about training people and giving them the best foundation they will ever have in their lives.”

(A summary of the ONS statistics can be downloaded here.)