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991,000 young people out of work or education

The country’s leading student organisation (the National Union of Student) has slammed government efforts to support young people after new figures show record high youth unemployment.

Figures from the Office of National Statistics reveal that 991,000 people aged between 16-24 are classified as ‘not in education, employment or training’ (NEET). One in five young people are out of work with youth unemployment at its highest level since comparable records began in 1992. President of the NUS, Liam Burns, fiercely criticised the government’s provisions for younger people as: “slamming the door in the face of an entire generation”.

Youth unemployment currently stands at 21.3 percent, more than double the overall UK unemployment rate of 8.1 percent, itself at a 17-year high. The UK has a greater proportion of NEET people aged between 15-19 than France, Germany or the Netherlands, statistics released by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) show.

The data also indicates that less-wealthy European nations, including Estonia, Greece, Hungary and Slovakia out-shine the UK when it comes to tackling youth unemployment. NUS President Liam Burns accused the government of not doing enough to provide young people with the opportunities and support to help them succeed.
He said that young people who are not currently in work, education or training “are now left fewer alternatives to the dole queue”. Representing the interests of seven million students, Liam Burns also called for the government to reinstate Education Maintenance Allowance for those aged between 16-19 from lower income families.

Burns added: “Huge cuts to education funding and the closure of advice services for young people have poured fuel on the fire of youth unemployment. Ministers must properly fund careers services, and reinvest in education and training if individuals and communities are to avoid the permanent scars of youth unemployment”.

The number of young people out of work for one year reached 219,000 in the three months to July this year, with 93,000 young people out of work for more than two years. Half of universities in England anticipate a fall in full-time undergraduate student intake once higher tuition fees come into effect next year, the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) has revealed.

The HEFCE also found that universities in England expect, on average, 3-6 percent more students from outside the European Union to enrol on their courses.
Non-EU students often pay much more than domestic students to study in the UK.

Labour Party leader, Ed Miliband accused Prime Minister David Cameron of “betraying a generation” of young people by scrapping EMA, abolishing the Future Jobs Funds and raising tuition fees. MSc Management and Finance student Ben Baker said he hoped that Mr Miliband’s judgement was wrong. Ben said he chose to study a Master’s degree to improve his future prospects: “I have already applied for a dozen graduate jobs”, he added.

History student Fadie Hannon said his friends had found searching for work after university more difficult after graduating last year compared to his brother who graduated in 2005. First year Psychology student Cathie Porter believes that the government should encourage more people into apprenticeships: “a lot of people can gain valuable experience at a time when employers want people with experience. It’s better than an internship because you get paid.”

Biology student Jessica Bellis said she was wary about finding work after her degree: “I don’t know how I’m going to stand out from the crowd. I might do an MA, but it’s more money”.

The announcement that Christmas will bring thousands of new jobs to Sussex provided some relief to economic pessimism. Businesses and shops anticipate that they will hire hundreds of temporary extra staff during the festive period. Royal Mail plans to recruit 600 temporary staff with most new positions being created at its Gatwick Mail Centre, however opportunities at smaller sorting offices across East and West Sussex have not been ruled out.

Greeting card chain Card Factory has pledged hundreds of temporary jobs nationwide whilst department store Debenhams plans to employ 120 extra staff in Sussex over the winter months. Opportunities for work will be greatest between mid-November and the beginning of January during what is considered to be the busiest time of year for many retailers.

Large employers in Brighton & Hove, including Asda, Marks & Spencer, Sainsbury’s and Tesco are also expected to announce seasonal vacancies within weeks.

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