School Leavers Facing Rising Youth Unemployment Rates In Postcode Lottery Battle

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Young people are facing a north-south divide when looking for jobs | PA

School leavers in Scotland and the North East are facing a tough fight to gain jobs, with new figures revealing unemployment rates for young people in those areas have doubled since the financial crisis.

In one town, unemployment rates have almost tripled within the past four years, a study published on Tuesday revealed.

Many teenagers picking up their GCSE results on Thursday will be battling a postcode lottery when looking for jobs as the north-south divide has widened, the study claimed.

The report, by education specialists Ambitious Minds, say young people in the North East and Scotland are facing the worst prospects, while London and the South East remain relatively unaffected by youth unemployment.

The study warns young people have seen the most "dramatic" changes to their prospects and expectations than any other secondary school year group for 70 years.

When they began their education, and when they started secondary school, unemployment rates were low.

But the last five years have brought "economic deterioration, systemic failures, false dawns and empty promises," the report continues.

The organisation looked at the impact of the recession on job prospects and found hotspots of youth unemployment throughout the UK, based on published figures.

The North East, Scotland and Yorkshire and the Humber have all had rises in youth unemployment that are twice as large as those in London and the South East, which have seen only small increases, it claims.

Corby in Northamptonshire has been the worst affected, with unemployment rates among young people rising from 4% to 11% between 2007 and 2012 - an increase of seven percentage points.

This was followed by North Ayrshire, which has seen youth unemployment rise from 6.5% to 12.6% - an increase of 6.1 percentage points, the report claims.

Overall, the North East of England had seen the biggest rises.

In September 2007, 5.1% of 16-to-24-year-olds in the region were claiming jobseekers' allowance. By July 2012 this had risen to 8.6% - an increase of 3.5 percentage points.

In Scotland, the rate of young claimants had also risen by 3.5 percentage points in the same period, the report says.

At the other end of the scale, London had seen an increase if 1.4 percentage points, and in the South East there had been a rise of 1.6 percentage points.

Sean McGuire, chief executive of Ambitious Minds, said: "Those areas which have suffered disproportionately in the last five years need support to prevent unemployment, and especially long-term unemployment, becoming normalised.

"As the economy stagnates, young people and the organisations which support them must understand and grapple with the employment issues that are facing them."

The latest official unemployment figures showed that in the three months to June, 1.01 million 16-to-24-year-olds were considered out of work, down 4,000 down on the previous three months.

A Scottish Government spokesman said: "Scotland has an overall lower rate of unemployment than the rest of the UK as well as a higher youth employment rate. Sixteen to 24-year-olds have also seen the largest increase in employment of any key age group - up by 10,000 - over the last year.

"Last year saw record numbers of pupils leaving school for positive destinations such as training, employment or further study.

"We have also guaranteed every 16 to 19-year-old a place in learning or education though Opportunities For All, and will continue discussions with employers on how young people can help grow their business."

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