Youth unemployment figures 'shame the government'

More than 1m young people are still out of work, education and training - and numbers are barely dropping

Over a million young people are currently classed as NEET - not in employment, education or training - and recent figures have demonstrated a drop of just 1,000 since the start of 2013.

Leading unions have claimed that new data showing 15 per cent of 16-to-24-year-olds as NEET 'shames the government' and is 'no cause for celebration', despite Skills Minister Matthew Hancock arguing that levels for 16-to-18-year-olds are at a 13-year low, having fallen by 1.4 per cent on last year.

Just over half of this group are hunting for work, says the Office for National Statistics, while the rest are ‘economically inactive’ and not looking or available for employment.

Hancock said he was 'heartened to see the fall' in number.

"We are heading in the right direction, but one young person out of work, education or training, is one too many," he said.

"That is why we are continuing to work hard to give young people the skills, confidence and experience demanded by employers and universities. Only then can we say we have done everything we can to ensure young people reach their potential and help us compete in the global race."

Dave Prentis, general secretary of Unison, denied that the figures were positive, claiming that 'the slow rate of progress... shames this government'.

He added: "Every statistic represents a young person who is being given no hope for the future.

"The number of youngsters leaving school, colleges and universities will swell the ranks of NEETs adding to the need for more help and support. Instead, our young people are being let down by government cuts to careers services, high youth unemployment and the rocketing cost of continuing education."

Unite leader Len McCluskey believes a 'disastrous handling of the economy' is to blame for 'a million stories of untapped potential and dashed hopes'.

“All (the government) is prepared to offer our young people is an insecure future of low paid employment, creating a lost generation”, he said.

"Our young people are not a pool of cheap labour - they are meant to be our citizens of tomorrow. They need to be offered more than despair, they need a stake in our society, which comes by investing in them through apprenticeships, education, vocational training and decent jobs."