Youth unemployment has halved since 2010. The news is full of positive headlines about record employment levels. So why are around 650,000 young people not in education, employment or in training (NEET) in the UK? And what do we know about this group of young people?

For the first time, Impetus can shed light on some of the key answers to these questions. We’ve been able to use government data to better understand what happens to disadvantaged young people when they leave school and start looking for a job. And for the first time, we’ve established that there is an “Employment Gap” between disadvantaged young people and their better-off peers.

Impetus’ Youth Jobs Gap reveals that young people from disadvantaged backgrounds are twice as likely to be NEET as their better-off peers. This gap is consistent across time and across regions, although it’s worth pointing out that the variation within regions is a lot bigger than the variation between regions (this will be explored in more detail in our future reports). This gap is the equivalent of around 78,000 additional disadvantaged young people who are NEET aged 18-24. That’s 78,000 young people not in the labour market who could benefit from quality support.

What is most surprising from the research, and an interesting insight for the sector, is that only half of this gap can be explained by differences in qualifications – and half cannot. So, even if a young person from a disadvantaged background gets the same results at school as a young person from a wealthier family, they’re still 50% more likely to be NEET in early adulthood. Why? That’s a question we’d like the employment support sector to help us answer in our future reports.

Our Youth Jobs Gap series will be addressing these issues so we can have a better understanding of what life is like for disadvantaged young people after they leave school. But we’ll also be using the research to support Impetus’ charity partners, particularly those that work in the employment space, in order to improve their programmes supporting young people. Alongside the National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR) and the Centre for Vocational Research (CVER), we also aim to use the data to help organisations to benchmark their impact, which could be a game changer for the sector.

We’re keen to hear from and work with ERSA members on how our work can help. Sam Windett, our Director of Policy, will be presenting our Youth Jobs Gap data at the upcoming ERSA Youth Employment Forum on Thursday 06 June – come along and join us to hear more about how our ground-breaking work can help more disadvantaged young people succeed in employment.

Nathalie Versavel is Communications Officer at Impetus.

Follow me on Twitter: @ImpetusPEF @NVersavel #YouthJobsGap

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