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"Postcode lottery" limiting chances of young UK job seekers

Young job seekers in the UK are having their work cut out by factors beyond their control, a new government report claims.

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Young job seekers in the UK are having their work cut out by factors beyond their control, a new government report claims.

The insight comes from the new ‘Catch 16-24’ report from the UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES). It brings to attention a phenomenon it has dubbed the “postcode lottery”, in which many UK youths face limited work opportunities based simply on the area where they live.

According to the report, some parts of the UK are almost twice as likely to offer work experience to youths than in other areas. This, unsurprisingly, has lead to high rates of unemployment for those aged under 25.

Where youths succeed – or struggle

The UKCES also cited figures from the government, which show that a massive 40 per cent of the 1.9 million unemployed people in the UK are under the age of 25. As the findings from the report show, this unemployment is not evenly distributed throughout the UK.

The report found that the Humber has one of the highest unemployment rates for 16 to 25 year-olds, with less than a third (29 per cent) of employers providing work experience opportunities specifically for young job seekers. Areas such as Cumbria, Leicester and Sheffield were also singled out as “work experience blackspots”.

Liverpool, Greater Birmingham and Solihull were revealed to be the regions at the opposite end of the scale, with relatively low levels of unemployment. While it is unfortunate that arbitrary factors such as location should affect the career options for youths, there are measures that governments and employers can take to buck the trend.

Businesses need to rise to the challenge

So what can businesses do to address this issue?

UKCES Chief Executive Michael Davis said that young people find it difficult as it is to get into work, and therefore the findings from the report are “disheartening”. However, he suggested that building better links between youths, education providers and employers is a great first step.

“Contact with the world of work should be a component of all young people’s educational experience, and all schools and colleges should have links with at least one local business. That’s not altruism – it’s essential if we’re to create the skilled workers all businesses need to survive and thrive,” he said.

“By working collaboratively, taking one simple step and engaging with young people, employers, education providers and those taking their first steps into work can all benefit.”