Unemployment among under-25s reaches 1 million

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The Independent Online
A MILLION under-25-year-olds are now out of work, with graduates experiencing a higher unemployment rate than those with vocational qualifications, according to an analysis published today.

Based on a study of government figures, two charities calculate that the jobless rate among young people has virtually doubled since the recession began in April 1990, outstripping the increase among the general population. Youthaid and the Unemployment Unit contend that there are 111,100 jobless 16- and 17-year-olds - and 80 per cent of them have no income. Official figures show only 15,746 out of work: those under 18 are not entitled to unemployment benefit and are not counted as jobless by the Department of Employment, which aims to guarantee them Youth Training places.

Graduate unemployment among under-25-year-olds is running at 17.5 per cent, but for those with City and Guilds or Royal Society of Arts qualifications it is only 14.2 per cent. The lowest rates of unemployment are recorded for those holding the more vocational BTEC qualifications such as BTEC Higher (9.3 per cent) and BTEC General (12.6 per cent). The highest rates are among young people with Youth Training certificates at 30.4 per cent. For those with A-level or equivalent the rate is 15.7 per cent; O-level or equivalent GCSE, 13.9 per cent; and CSE, other than grade one, 19.4 per cent.

The charities concede that unemployment among those under 18 declined between October 1992 and January 1993, but argue that this was due to seasonal factors. They point out that the 111,100 total had climbed by 8,100 in the last 12 months and increased by 52,300 since the recession started.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Employment said increases in unemployment reflected world circumstances. Youth unemployment was too high, but it was below the European Community average.

She said that Britain was the only country to offer a training guarantee to 16 and 17-year-olds. Employer-led Training and Enterprise Councils and the careers service accepted that there were 6,744 young people waiting eight weeks or more for a YT place, and of those almost half had received an offer.

Neither TECs nor careers officers found any evidence of the 'huge' numbers of young people Youthaid claimed were slipping through the net, she said.