STUDENT LIFE / JUN. 24, 2014
version 3, draft 3

Unqualified School-leavers Struggle to Find Work

Despite the recent improvement in the UK job market, job prospects of young people who are outside full time education are declining significantly according to a report by the Trade Union Congress (TUC).

According to the TUC study, the job situation for unskilled young people or people who aren’t in full time education is particularly alarming. In 1998 75% of young people who were not studying had found work – higher than the employment rate for all workers at the time of 71%. However, the job prospects for the under-25s fell behind that of other workers by mid-2005 and have continued to decline ever since. Today, the job chances of young people not in full-time education were comparable with workers aged 50-64 last summer – a remarkable turnaround given that youngsters were 25% more likely to be in work than older workers back in 1998.

The report also highlighted that less than half of those who are unqualified or low-skilled are currently employed, while the employment rate for those who only have basic (level 1) qualifications has fallen to around 63%.

Single parents, older people, black and Asian employees and disabled people have had relatively better employment chances over the last 17 years – although they too remain less likely to find jobs today. 

Radical Action Has to be Taken

TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: "All the mainstream political parties now support unions’ long-held commitment to full employment. But with job prospects for many young people, and poorly qualified people of all ages, deteriorating it will be impossible for any government to achieve this goal unless radical action is taken”.

O’Grady also added that "over the last two decades, we’ve learnt that strong growth and proper investment in employment programmes can make a huge difference to people’s job chances. But ministers seem keener on kicking struggling youngsters when they’re down and removing the safety net they need to learn new skills and find work”.

Recommendations to Boost Unskilled Young People’s Employment

The report lists a number of recommendations that aim to increase employment rates for young people not in full-time education. Among the most important are:

• Offering targeted employment support programmes, such as a job guarantee for any young person out of work for at least six months

• Providing more intensive employment support to unskilled young people

• Establishing bodies in each industrial sector so that government, unions and employers could work together to identify skills gaps, promote decent workplace standards and fair pay.

The Department for Work and Pensions Disputes the Findings

Employment Minister Esther McVey disputed the results of the report claiming that the report is wrong and misleading. The Minister also went to say that young people who are not in full time education “have a higher employment rate than any other group the TUC lists”. She also said: "times have been tough for young people in the jobs market, but we know that they have worked hard to make sure that their prospects are better now than in any other recent recovery”.

Overall, the TUC report points to deteriorating job prospects for young and low-skilled workers outside full-time education, despite the recent recovery in employment. On the other hand, the government questions the statistics cited in the report, claiming that job opportunities for this social group are better now than after previous recessions. Investing in employment schemes as well as providing training to help youngsters boost their skills is vital in enhancing young people’s falling job prospects. 

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