Totalling the hidden talent: youth unemployment and underemployment in England and Wales

Document type
Gardiner, Laura
Centre for Economic and Social Inclusion
Date of publication
1 March 2014
Employment, Children and Young People
Social welfare
Material type

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This paper defines a broader measure of ‘slack’ in the youth labour market than that given by the headline unemployment figures. It looks at out-of-work young people who want a job in combination with young people who are ‘underemployed’ in various ways, in order to quantify the ‘total hidden talent’: all those young people in England and Wales who aren’t currently working to their potential. Comparative analysis of the total hidden talent shows that:

  • The number of young people in this group has grown by nearly three-quarters of a million since 2005, which is partly but not wholly explained by growth in the overall youth population.
  • Adults aged 25 and over are much less likely to be part of the total hidden talent than young people – 28% of adults are compared to 40% of young people.
  • Urban areas outside of London – including Sheffield, Leeds, Newcastle and Manchester city regions – face the highest total youth hidden talent levels. These areas have also seen the greatest increases, suggesting that the total youth hidden talent has become more deeply entrenched within areas during the recession and the period since.

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