Growing numbers of young people feel alienated by jobs market

New research from City & Guilds suggests that the odds are being stacked against young people’s futures and career aspirations – particularly the most disadvantaged. Following a trend of chronically high youth unemployment, the poll of 5,000 18-24-year-olds living in the UK claims that 13 percent are currently unemployed (not in work or studying) and a further 3 percent are economically inactive – equating to approximately 859,000 young adults out of work and education across the UK.

According to the report’s authors, the findings indicate that many young people feel totally excluded from the labour market. Of those currently studying or out of work, nearly one in ten (9 percent) – that’s 227,000 people – say they never intend to start working. They say that young people seem to be rapidly losing hope as they face what they see as a hostile labour market with limited opportunities to get a foot on the ladder and progress – suggesting they are being let down by the education system, Government and employers alike.

Almost a third (30 percent) of young people stated they don’t think they will ever be able to achieve their career ambitions. This is highest amongst those who are currently not working (35 percent) and those who have faced difficulties in their early lives – notably those who have been in the prison system (59 percent), been a refugee (54 percent) or been through the care system (44 percent).

Kirstie Donnelly, CEO of City and Guilds, said: “We can’t keep blaming the pandemic for the issues facing today’s youth. High youth unemployment has been an issue for more than a decade and the pandemic was just another challenge heaped onto an already creaking system that makes it incredibly difficult for young people to convert their aspirations into good jobs. In addition, our research found that young people who have faced additional challenges, such as young carers, care and prison leavers and those who come from less affluent families, are falling way behind their peers in the labour market at the earliest stage of their careers. The current system is baking in inequality and preventing millions of young people from meeting their potential.”

Those that are keen to work, face real barriers to getting jobs. More than two in five (43 percent) do not believe that their education has equipped them with the skills they need to get the job they want. Two thirds (64 percent) of young people say that it is not easy to get a good job these days, and nearly a third (29 percent) say they have struggled to get interviews. One in five (19 percent) say there simply aren’t the jobs available in their local area.

In face of these challenges, young people strongly believe both Government and employers must do more to support them. Just a quarter (26 percent) of the 18-24-year-olds surveyed think the Government is doing enough to support young people entering the world of work, and that drops to just 19 percent of those that are unemployed.



In its new report Youth Misspent, City & Guilds has set out key recommendations for employers, Government and educators to better support young people to enter the labour market, including:


  •      Engage with the skills system and existing Government skills initiatives to provide better opportunities and progression for young people – and fill critical skills shortages.
  •      Make it easier for young people to access, then progress in their careers – especially the most disadvantaged.


  •      Work with educators and employers to optimise existing skills interventions and fully utilise funding pots.
  •      Improve careers guidance and education from early years through to adulthood.


  •      Help young people of all ages to be more aware of the broader education and career opportunities available to them.
  •      Ensure that curricula are inclusive, allowing people with different abilities to achieve their best.