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How research can help us understand youth unemployment

Posted on 06 March 2012 .
Tags: unemployment

As a recent graduate, I have been closely following ACEVO’s commission on youth unemployment, which has reported that nearly 1.5 million young people are NEET and a quarter of a million have been unemployed for over a year. Equally alarming is research that shows a period of joblessness early on is likely to have an impact on a person’s chances of being without a job later on in life.

So what exactly can be done about this? The ACEVO commission has made some recommendations. They've advised that there be more job opportunities, better preparation for work, guaranteed back-to-work welfare and that those not attending university have better options for progression.

NatCen Social Research has a keen interest in this area and as a member of Centre for Analysis of Youth Trends we understand that social research has a key role to play in this debate. Not only can we researchers collect information about the lived experiences of young, unemployed individuals, we can also measure the successes and failures of initiatives designed to tackle unemployment amongst this group.

For example, in our longitudinal study the Disengagement from Education among 14- 16 Year Olds, we found that white men, from disadvantaged backgrounds, were more likely to opt out of education. Our forthcoming study of Intergenerational transmission of worklessness is set to examine the effect on attitudes and aspirations of living in a workless household.

We've also done lots of work evaluating initiatives set up to tackle youth unemployment. Our research into the effects of Activity Agreement Pilots demonstrated the favourable outcome of a scheme designed to better prepare young people for employment, as proposed by ACEVO’s Commission.

Although social research into youth unemployment produces some shocking statistics, it's also crucial to tackling the problem. We need to understand both the demographic and the efficacy of initiatives in order to gauge how to move forward.
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