Breaking Barriers: Addressing Youth Unemployment in London

  • By Rohan Gupta

Executive Summary

This report provides an analysis of the youth unemployment landscape in London, highlighting the persistent rise in unemployment rates among 16-24 year olds, which remain above pre-pandemic levels. Geographical disparities exacerbate the issue, with certain boroughs bearing a disproportionately higher burden of youth unemployment. Targeted interventions are needed, tailored to local needs.  

The intersectionality of factors such as ethnicity, disability, and health status compounds these challenges, underscoring systemic barriers that hinder equal access to employment opportunities for all young Londoners. For example,  young black Londoners and individuals with disabilities face disproportionately higher rates of unemployment compared to their counterparts. These disparities highlight the urgent need for inclusive policies and support systems that address systemic barriers and provide equal opportunities for all young Londoners. 

The prevalence of ill health among young people, particularly mental health issues, has also increased significantly since the onset of the pandemic, contributing to economic inactivity among this group. The report emphasises the crucial link between mental health and employment, highlighting the need for holistic support systems that address the mental and physical wellbeing of young Londoners. 

London government has committed to providing good work for the most vulnerable Londoners and to address inequalities through the London Economic Framework and Building a Fairer City. However, the fragmented nature of employment services provision poses significant challenges to meeting the variety of challenges outlined above. There are many bodies operating at the national, London, sub-regional, and borough levels which offer employment and skills services to young Londoners, but the lack of integration and collaboration among them hinders effective support. Significant gaps and challenges in youth employment persist and are exacerbated in this fragmented landscape, such as gaps in the data needed to identify and address the needs of disadvantaged young Londoners effectively. 

Addressing youth unemployment in London requires a multifaceted approach that involves stakeholders at various levels working collaboratively to implement targeted interventions, prioritise mental health and wellbeing, and provide valued opportunities for education, employment, and training. By addressing systemic barriers, enhancing coordination, and investing in holistic support systems, London can work towards ensuring equal access to employment opportunities for all young individuals.