A gloomy outlook for the young

Mike Barnard asks what the current economic situation means for young people

A year since the UK came out of a recession, the jobs market remains a difficult place for young people. The Confederation of British Industry expects unemployment to peak at a level which is �higher than previously expected" at 2.71 million by the end of the year, but it is youth unemployment that is the most worrying. Figures from the Office for National Statistics show that more than one in five of the UK's 16-to-24-year-olds are not in employment, education or training. The number of young people out of work is the highest since records began in 1992.

The Recruitment & Employment Confederation has called on the government to offer incentives to private sector employers to hire young people, which would be a good idea. Employers have become increasingly careful about who they hire as recruitment budgets have been cut, and are tending to take on those with job experience rather than school-leavers or graduates fresh out of university. And as the cuts to the public sector will see more skilled professionals looking for work again, 16-to-24-year-olds will face even greater competition for work. So, some helping hands for young people seeking work would be welcome.

But instead, existing sources of support are being snatched away. This week the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) revealed that it would struggle to continue to support young people heading into employment, as there has been no indication that the government's Graduate Internship Programme would continue past its original 12 month lifespan next month. That's a shame. So far, it's helped 8,500 graduates find internships with small businesses and the FSB claim that a quarter of these graduates are offered full-time employment afterwards. In addition, there's evidence that young people who start their careers in small firms are more likely to start their own businesses.

What will be the results of the difficulties faced by young people looking for work? The unrest seen in the Middle East may be having more serious ramifications on how those countries are run than the tuition fee protests in the UK. But serious disquiet among young people cannot be ignored here either. Aaron Porter's resignation from his position as NUS President demonstrates how students will not tolerate leaders who do not stand by them in times of need. These students are an important part of the the newest generation of workers and so their needs must be considered. The coalition must take note.

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