The UK has a major youth unemployment problem. Almost a million young people in the UK are unemployed – and the size of this group was rising even during times of economic growth.
But it doesn’t have to be this way – in many other developed nations youth unemployment has remained low despite the global economic downturn. For example, youth unemployment in Germany has been falling since the mid 2000s while in the Netherlands and Switzerland the proportion of young people who were out of work remained low and stable throughout the economic crisis.
However, in other countries persistent and high levels of unemployment have been features of the youth labour market for a long time. The recession has exacerbated long standing disparities between countries – for instance youth unemployment rates in Spain and Greece have remained at around 20-25 per cent for the last decade or more and now are above 45 per cent in both countries.