UK and London youth unemployment increased in 2023

Youth unemployment increased in 2023, after a period of improvement in 2022, according to data by the Office for National Statistics and Trust for London.

The ONS report revealed that there were 540,000 young people in the UK aged 16 to 24 who were unemployed in September 2023, 79,000 more than the year before.

The unemployment rate for 16 to 24 year olds was 12.8% in the UK.

In London it was even higher at 16.3%.

Bea Thomas, a trustee for British Youth Council, explained that the challenges young people faced during the pandemic have had a long-lasting impact on youth unemployment. 

Thomas said: “There are many factors that impact youth engagement with work, but one important one is youth mental health, which has worsened since COVID.”

“The pandemic was a uniquely challenging time for young people, many of whom had negative experiences such as losing employment or not being able to begin a professional career in a traditional way.”

“This has continued to influence the way some young people take this step into working life.”

London has consistently had higher rates of unemployment compared to the national average since 2018.

The Great Londoner Authority (GLA) Intelligence outlined one of the main reason for this.

The GLA Intelligence report said: “London’s status as a global city brings benefits and opportunities for many.

“But the competition that comes with this can make access to and progress in the labour market more challenging, particularly for some disadvantaged Londoners.”

Bar chart comparing youth unemployment (16-24 year-olds) between 2018 and 2023. (Sources: Office for National Statistics & Trust for London)

Thomas explained: “Young people struggle to receive the best career advice needed to make the right career choices and the best opportunities for work experience.” 

“They also face the barriers of not having the soft skills needed to thrive in a complex, rapidly changing world of work.” 

The Empowering Youth for the Future of Work report, produced in July 2023, funded by the British Youth Council and YMCA England & Wales, outlines some of the proposed steps that may be taken to remedy youth unemployment.

Amongst the steps, to address the barriers young people have to obtaining the soft skills needed to thrive in the world of work, the report recommends more investment in youth services.

The British Youth Council believes that there is not enough support to provide extracurricular or enrichment activities that can help build soft skills like leadership, communication, and confidence.

You can read the other recommendations in the report here:

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