Unemployment line for young people stretches almost 40 miles

Unemployed young people could form a line that stretches almost 40 miles, new research has claimed.

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If the 64,000 16 to 24-year-olds in Scotland who are out of work all stood in line, that line would be 38.5 miles long, according to the figures produced by the House of Commons library.

The number of Scots of all ages who are out of work and claiming jobseeker's allowance could form a queue of about 53 miles in length - more than the distance from Glasgow to Edinburgh.

Across the UK, the 734,000 16 to 24-year-olds who are out of work - including those not eligible for benefits - could form a line about 434 miles long, the research suggested, with this more than the distance from Edinburgh to London.

The research was released to coincide with a new cross-party parliamentary group at Westminster on youth unemployment.

Chair of the group Pamela Nash, the Airdrie and Shotts Labour MP, said: "There is not one solution to youth unemployment, and nor is there one party colour that has all the solutions, that is why I wanted to set up this cross party group, to look for solutions from all areas and sections."

The research the group commissioned from the House of Commons library showed that the number of 16 to 24-year-olds in Scotland who are out of work and claiming jobseeker's allowance could form a line more than 13 miles long - about the same as the distance from Glasgow to Airdrie.

Ms Nash said: "When you consider that if all the unemployed people on the dole in Scotland all stood in a straight line they'd reach from Glasgow to Edinburgh, and the young unemployed in that line would be able to reach from George Square to Airdrie alone; then you'd be as shocked as I was to discover that there was not a single cross-party group in Westminster or Holyrood looking at tackling this issue.

"In my constituency alone, the youth unemployment rate is almost double both the rates for the UK and Scotland. Since I was elected it has marginally reduced, but has done so at a slower rate in Airdrie and Shotts than it has for Scotland and the UK.

"This is why one of the aims of the new group will be to highlight and share good practise across the UK of schemes and initiatives that help tackle the causes and problems locally as well as nationally.

"Youth unemployment is something that I have direct experience of in Airdrie and Shotts, and that is a vital concern and not some faceless statistics for many families in our community.

"I want to ensure that the issue of youth unemployment remains a top priority for both Governments, and for all politicians in Edinburgh and London."

Official figures recently revealed Scotland had seen the biggest annual increase in employment in Scotland for almost seven years, with 2,556,000 people in the last three months of 2013 - 92,000 more than the same period in 2012.

The number of women in work also increased by 72,000 over the year, with female employment reaching its highest ever total at 1,243,000.

As well as the rise in employment, data from the Office for National Statistics showed the jobless total continued to fall, with unemployment dropping 3,000 between October and December last year to stand at 195,000.

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: "Last month's official labour market figures which cover the period October to December 2013 showed the largest annual increase in employment levels in nearly seven years, with the current level of female employment at its highest level since the statistical series began in 1992. This is a demonstration of this Government's commitment to creating jobs and boosting the economy.

"We remain wholly committed to doing all we can, particularly when it comes to youth unemployment, which is why we have invested so heavily in programmes to support more young people into work, including Community Jobs Scotland and the Youth Employment Scotland Fund.

"The Scottish Government have also requested on numerous occasions that the UK Government put in place the principles of the European Youth Guarantee - where under 25s are guaranteed a job, apprenticeship, traineeship, or continued education on leaving education or becoming unemployed.

"We are doing everything we can with the limited powers we currently have for education, skills and modern apprenticeships but only with the full powers of independence will we be able to do more to strengthen our economy and create jobs."

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