Real UK jobs shortfall revealed

Real UK jobs shortfall revealed

People aged 18-24 are far less likely to be in work today than before the recession and 395,000 more jobs are needed before youth unemployment rates return to their 2008 level, according to the TUC.

The research looks at changes in the likelihood of being in work over the last five years.

While ministers continue to laud the fact that a record number of people are in work, they fail to mention that this is mainly due to a growing population and a rising state pension age for women, the TUC said.

The analysis focuses on employment rates, the likelihood of having a job - figures that are more relevant to people's actual experience of finding work.

According to the TUC analysis, young people aged 18-24 have seen the sharpest fall in their job prospects of all age groups. They are 10%less likely to be in work today than on the eve of the recession in February 2008. It would take another 395,000 jobs to get their employment rate back to pre-recession levels.

However, as youth unemployment starting rising even before the last recession, many more jobs would need to be created to give young people the kind of career opportunities they deserve, says the TUC.

There is also a job shortfall among "prime age" workers aged 25-49. Employment rates among 25-34 year olds have fallen by 2.4%, creating a job shortfall of 164,000. Employment rates for 35-49 year olds are almost back to their pre-recession level. Their shortfall of 71,000 jobs is relatively small given that they are by far the largest age group in the workforce.

The news for older workers is much more positive. The likelihood of a 50-64 year old being in work is 2.2% higher today than it was in 2008. Recent TUC research has found that women over 50 have seen the fastest rise in their employment rates, though this is partly down to the state pension age rising in recent years.

The TUC is concerned that while employment prospects for older workers have been improving, those for young people are far worse, and have deteriorated further since mid-2010.

The Government must to do far more to help young people struggling for work, said the TUC, particularly as its current support schemes - like the Work Programme and the Youth Contract - are clearly not working.

The TUC wants the Government to introduce a job guarantee for any young person who has been out of work for at least six months. Any job offer should offer training and pay at least minimum wage rates, to give young people a proper experience of work.

TUC General Secretary Frances O'Grady said: "Ministers never stop claiming that a record number of people are in work. What they fail to mention is that it is more down to population growth than as a result of their own employment policies.

"What really matters to people is the likelihood of having a job and for young people in particular those chances have fallen sharply in the last five years.

"Young people today are suffering a shortfall of nearly half a million jobs since the eve of the recession, and their prospects have deteriorated even further over the last few years.

"It's particularly worrying that 18-24 year olds have not benefitted from the recent improvement in the jobs market, and they are losing out again now that unemployment is rising.

"Ministers must do far more help young people back into work. The current schemes are clearly not working. It's time for a bold new approach. We need to see a job guarantee for every young person who has been out of work for more than six months.

"No-one should object to ministers spending more now on a job guarantee that could provide a better future for unemployed youngsters, particularly as past experience has shown that these schemes tend to pay for themselves in the long run."

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George Bailey