Huge disparity in youth unemployment across Yorkshire

Stark variations in youth unemployment levels across Yorkshire and the Humber could impact local economic growth, according to a new report.

Stuart Watson, senior partner at EY in Yorkshire
Stuart Watson, senior partner at EY in Yorkshire

The study by EY, in association with the EY Foundation, found there was huge disparity in the numbers of young people being employed across the region in 2015.

Bradford was identified as having the highest rate of youth unemployment in the region, with 26 per cent of people out of work, while York had the lowest rate, with 11.4 per cent.

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Sheffield had a youth unemployment rate of 19.4 per cent and Hull 17.1 per cent. The figure for Leeds was 13.8 per cent.

According to the report, this could have an impact on the region and wider UK’s aspiration to achieve ‘inclusive growth’, particularly at a time when the UK’s future supply of labour and skills is at the forefront of many employers’ minds after the Brexit vote in June.

The report revealed that the average youth unemployment rate in the Yorkshire region was 15 per cent. The East of England had the lowest level of youth unemployment at 11.2 per cent, whereas the North East had the highest rate at 18.3 per cent.

But even though York had one of the lowest rates, the figure has almost tripled since 2004 when its youth unemployment rate was 4.2 per cent. A similar shift has been seen in Bradford, with the rate more than doubling from 11.3 per cent in 2004 to one of the highest rates in the country.

Looking at the other end of the spectrum, Yorkshire and the Humber was the region with the highest proportion of young workers in the UK at 14.2 per cent. In particular, young people made up almost 20 per cent of employment in agriculture and fishing – close to double the UK average.

Financial and business services also employed proportionately more young people in Yorkshire and Humber than in any other region.

Stuart Watson, senior partner at EY, said: “Looking at this region as a whole, what stands out is that overall levels of youth unemployment are improving but pockets are still reporting much higher youth unemployment rates than the average with some cities affected more than others.

“These regional differences underline the importance of a coordinated response from Government and business to tackle the issues locally.”

The biggest fall in UK youth employment levels between 2004 and 2015 were in the manufacturing sector (28 per cent).

Meanwhile, the two sectors that currently employ the highest proportions of young people – relative to their total employment – are set to grow.

The report forecasts that between 2015 and 2030 the UK’s employment in distribution, hotels and restaurants will grow by an average of 0.4 per cent a year, matching the forecast growth of the UK’s total employment.

Conversely, the sectors young people are most likely to have difficulty finding employment opportunities in are mining and utilities and manufacturing.

Maryanne Matthews, chief executive of independent UK charity EY Foundation, said: “Maturing workforces, demands for new skills in a knowledge economy, and a projected growth in the number of high-skilled jobs over the next few years, means that the need for employers to diversify talent has become a business imperative.”