Record numbers of A-level candidates are expected to miss out on a university place today – as the latest unemployment numbers underline the bleak prospects of them finding a job.
More than one in five of Britain's young people (those aged 16 to 24) are out of work and almost 100,000 of them have been on the dole for two years or more.
The youth unemployment rate rose to 20.2 per cent this spring, according to the Office for National Statistics – one of the highest in the European Union. There are 949,000 young people without work, a rise of 15,000 on the last quarter, and approaching levels last seen in the 1980s. Overall, unemployment rose by an unexpectedly high 39,000 in the three months to June this year, to almost 2.5 million. The number of jobless women benefit claimants rose by 15,600 to 512,700, the highest since 1996.
The youth unemployment situation will be compounded by the number of teenagers who will not get into university this year. A record 669,956 applied as candidates tried to beat the rise in fees to up to £9,000 a year, coming in September 2012.
Today's A-level results will probably see about 250,000 people chasing just over 40,000 places in clearing, meaning a record 210,000 will miss out. Many of them will face a dilemma over whether to hunt for scarce jobs, volunteer as unpaid interns, take a gap year or seek university places overseas.
Sally Hunt, the general secretary of the University and College Union, described the Government's fees policy as "a clumsy disaster".
The increase in youth unemployment is especially worrying because of the strong evidence that if young people can not establish themselves in the world of work early in their careers they will find it much more difficult later on – the "lost generation" phenomenon that marked out the 1980s.
The jobs misery is not confined to the young. Reflecting the sharp rise in unemployment when the recession began in 2008, and the faltering recovery since then, the number of long-term unemployed – those without work for more than two years – is up 30 per cent. For those over 50, the rise is 38 per cent – suggesting that, as in previous downturns, many may simply never find work again.
Economists predict that general unemployment will see a further 250,000 out of work, and perhaps more, within months. The rate jumped from 7.7 per cent to 7.9 per cent, reversing recent declines.Reuse content