Youth unemployment in Wales more than trebles in a year

One in seven young people in Wales are now unemployed, new figures show.

The number of 18-24-year-olds out of work has risen from 3.8% to 14.1% – a rise of 10.3% since this time last year.

The figures from the Office for National Statistics also show a clear divide between men and women in that age group: 17% of women aged 18-24 are unemployed compared to 11% of men. 

Gender discrepancies in youth unemployment levels

Youth employment rates have always been slightly higher than the national average, but today we see that gap widening.

The number of adults out of work across Wales is just below the UK national average of 5%, but the figure for 18-24 year olds is 14%. It is thought that this particularly high increase might be down to the large number of young people working in the hospitality industries, which have been particularly hard hit hard by the pandemic. The figures do not include those young people in education or training.

The widening unemployment gap

Victoria Winkler is the Director of The Bevan Foundation, a think tank based in Merthyr Tydfil that works to combat inequality across Wales. She says that the next few months will be ‘very tough’ for young people trying to find work as it is still “not very clear where those young people are going to get a job.”

She also says that “there’s a long way to go before we see the numbers drop” and that we must remain “cautious about just how quickly that’s going to happen”.

The rise comes despite the UK Government’s efforts to boost youth employment with its Kickstarter campaign, launched in September. The two billion pound scheme aims to support businesses in offering placements to young people across England, Scotland and Wales, but that investment doesn’t seem to have made much of an impact yet.

A spokesperson for the Liberal Democrats, Cadan ap Tomos  says that the government “needs to recognise the scale of the problem and answer that with targeted support for young people and not just hope that they will be caught up with the rest of the support that is being offered.”

The Department for Work and Pensions has said that results of their recent scheme is yet to be reflected in the figures because of complications brought out by the pandemic, but over the next year, they hope to see 250,000 more jobs created through the campaign.