The UK is lagging behind major competitor economies on tackling youth unemployment. The figures are striking: the number of young people out of work has increased at a much faster rate than the European average and the proportion of young people who are unemployed now stands at the third highest in the OECD, with only Spain and Greece experiencing worse levels. Yet it doesn’t have to be this way. Many countries have managed to maintain consistently low levels of youth unemployment despite the global economic crisis.
So we know that this is not just about the impact of the recession. Indeed, in the UK, youth unemployment was rising even during the preceding period of economic prosperity. Part of the reason lies in the changing nature of the economy, yet there is also evidence that policy responses in the UK just haven’t been effective enough, which is why we now urgently need to consider how other countries have kept youth unemployment low despite the recession. This is what new research from The Work Foundation published this week has set out to do.