Youth unemployment soars in the Devizes constituency
When the unemployment figures were published last week the headlines picked out the soaring increase in youth unemployment across the nation. In the last quarter (July to September) there were 1,090,000 young people between the ages of sixteen and twenty-four claiming job seekers allowance.
That was a rise of 67,000 on the previous quarter and a rise 112,000 compared to the same quarter last year. One in five young people is now out of work. The total number and the rate of unemployment – 21.9 per cent – is the highest since these figures were first collected in their current form in 1992.
Few commentators noticed another statistic: during the last quarter (July to September) 43,000 women lost their jobs bringing the total number of women claiming job seekers allowance to 1,090,000 – the highest that figure has been since 1988.
Taking all the age and gender groups together, unemployment in the constituency rose in October 2011 by fourteen-point-five per cent against October last year.
A few days after the national statistics, the unemployment rates for each constituency are published. These do not break the total figures down by gender. But they do give a picture of youth unemployment in the Devizes constituency.
Although the total numbers may not look big, it’s not a pretty picture. In October last year the number of unemployed youth fell by 39.7 per cent. In October 2011 it rose by 43.2 per cent.
This huge jump will partly be explained by the coalition government’s actions: fewer people are going to university because of the rise in tuition fees and fewer are going to colleges because the Education Maintenance Allowance has been abandoned. And when young people choose to go to work rather than continue in education, they find suitable jobs are not there.
But this increase is not unique to the figures for October 2011. The annual increase – that’s the 2011 level compared to the same month in 2010 – in those aged twenty-four and under who are claiming job seekers allowance has risen sharply for several months:
-- July 2011 showed an increase of 5.8 per cent over July 2010.
-- August 2011 showed an increase of 10.9 per cent over August 2010.
-- September 2011 showed an increase of 23.1 per cent over September2010. And now we get October 2011 showing an increase of 43.2 per cent over October 2010.
However, the actual numbers affected within the constituency are still small: 315 people between the ages of sixteen and twenty-four were claiming benefit in October 2011. Numbers alone do not tell the stories of those who cannot find work.
Coinciding with the publication of the unemployment figures, Devizes MP, Claire Perry, issued a statement welcoming “the creation of almost 2,000 apprenticeships” within the constituency.
During the 2010-2011 academic year “1,840 apprenticeships were delivered in the Devizes constituency” – an increase of 16 per cent on the previous academic year. It is, however, not quite clear what now constitutes an apprenticeship.
Mrs Perry said: “This is great news for the businesses and young people in the Devizes constituency. Nationally, a record rise in apprenticeship numbers, particularly in Advanced ‘A’ level equivalent qualifications shows the Government’s commitment to helping employers train the skilled workers they need to build a stronger economy and sustainable growth.”
And the Skills Minister, John Hayes, shed a little more light on the matter when he said the government aims to “help young people who currently lack basic skills make the grade for an apprenticeship, our Access to Apprenticeships programme will provide 10,000 work experience and training opportunities every year.”