UK recession creating a ‘lost generation’

UK councils predict that a generation of young people will be lost to long-term unemployment. Photo: iStock.

By Rob O’Brien

The  recession is creating a "lost generation" of young people who may never escape the trap of long-term unemployment, UK local authority leaders believe.

The Local Government Association (LGA) made the announcement following an investigation which found 38,000 people aged 18 to 24 were made redundant between October and December – about a quarter of the total for the entire UK.

A further quarter of redundancies affected men over 50 who would struggle to find emplyment in a recession. The association said these two vulnerable groups need urgent help if they are to avoid being consigned to an employment scrapheap when the economy recovers.

The LGA said: "Previous recessions have left increasing numbers of people excluded from the labour market – in particular among the under-25s and over-50s.

"The recession of the early 1980s saw persistent unemployment in large northern towns in England, such as Liverpool, Manchester and Leeds, while the downturn of the early 90s left long-term unemployment, mainly in Cornwall and parts of Staffordshire."

The LGA said it needed more funding for training and employment schemes to get people back into work.

LGA chairman, Margaret Eaton said: "Previous recessions have left tens of thousands of people unemployed for years, even decades, and stuck in a dependency culture without the skills that they need to get a job.

"People in their early 20s often don’t have the experience or training to get into the job market, and those over 50 can find it impossible to retrain when they’re made redundant. These are the people most at risk, and these are the people who need targeted support. It is deeply worrying that there could be even more young people simply dropping out of the system, who don’t have a job, aren’t in college or in training.

"It is clear that a national, one-size-fits-all approach to dealing with the recession simply isn’t sufficient to deal with the scale of the problem. The research shows that the best way to get people back into work is for more decisions about employment and training to be taken at the local level."

The LGA’s intervention followed a report from the Children’s Society, warning that young people were bearing the brunt of the recession.

The charity said a survey of 17 to 19 year olds found 22 per cent could not find a job because of the downturn in the economy.

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