School leavers suffering most from UK crisis

YOUNG people who do not go on to higher education are taking the biggest hit from the UK’s stagnant economy, according to a report released yesterday by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

The report draws attention to the dramatic differences in employment and life chances between university graduates and people who left school at the end of secondary education.

The proportion of unemployed young people who did not finish secondary education is accelerating at a faster rate than unemployment for recent graduates.

In 2000, 9.1 per cent of 25-34 year olds who left school as soon as possible were unemployed, rising to 18.9 per cent in 2011. By contrast, the unemployment rate for graduates only rose from two to 4.7 per cent, over the same period.

British people between 15 and 29 also tend find to themselves out of work for longer than their contemporaries in other advanced economies. British youths spend 2.3 years out of work on average, in comparison to 1.3 years for Germans and only 1.1 years for those in the Netherlands.

The difference in employment rates between UK citizens who continue education after secondary school and those who do not over a lifetime is particularly stark. While over 80 per cent of people who have studied traditional degrees or finished advanced research courses at university are found in employment, only 43 per cent of those who left education at the end of secondary school are in work.

There are other disparities between people with different levels of education in the UK, outside of their working lives. Britons who do not finish secondary education are also 52 per cent more likely to be obese than their classmates who finished a university degree, and more than twice as likely to smoke.