The impact of unemployment on young people

Between the 24th June 2013 and the 4th July 2013, the polling group ComRes undertook online interviews of 1004 16-24 year olds who were not in education, employment or training (NEETs) on behalf of the University and College Union (UCU) for the UCU’s “Knowledge Economy” campaign.

The results of this survey of unemployed young people (after the data was weighted to be representative of all 16-24 year old NEETs in the UK), were released in mid-July and are nothing short of depressing to read. The survey shows beyond all doubt that there is a substantial human and social cost to youth unemployment which can no longer be ignored by politicians. Below are some of the key results from the survey.

Effects of youth unemployment on young people’s personal well-being

  • When asked about the consequences of not being in work, education or training on their personal well-being, 39% of young people had experienced stress and anxiety as a result of being unemployed, 37% rarely left the house, 33% had suffered from depression and 26% were eating unhealthy foods.
  • Smaller but still significant numbers of young people agreed they smoked too much (16%), drank too much alcohol (7%), had taken drugs (6%) or had even self-harmed (8%) as a consequence of being out of work, education or training.
  • When asked to agree or disagree with various statements about being NEET, more than half (54%) of young people said that their ‘potential is being thrown away or wasted’ while only 46% agreed that they felt ‘in control of how my life will turn out’. 47% said that thinking about the future makes them feel ‘desperate or hopeless’, and 36% claimed they have ‘no chance of ever getting a job’.

Effects of long-term unemployment on young people’s motivation to work

  • 63% of long-term unemployed young people (those who had been out of work for over a year) wanted to be in work in a year’s time. By way of comparison, 68% of young people who had been out of work for less than a year said the same – a gap of 5%.
  • Only a third of young people (32%) who had been out of work for a year thought they would be in work in a year’s time. This is compared to a figure of 41% for young people who had been out of work for under a year – a larger gap of 9%.
  • Long-term unemployed young people were also much more likely to say that they expected to be in the same situation this time next year (26%), compared to young people who had been out of work for less than a year (9%) – an even larger 17% gap.

Barriers to work, education or training

  • Respondents were also asked to identify the main barriers preventing them from getting into work, education or training. A lack of experience was the main barrier identified by respondents, but a quarter (25%) of them identified a lack of confidence as the main barrier preventing them from getting into work, education or training, with 15% citing a medical condition such as depression.
  • Boosting self-confidence (46%) and boosting motivation (36%) were identified by respondents as the two best ways to help them get into work, education or training.

You can find the full survey results here.

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