STUDENTS across Wearside will face a desperate struggle to find work when the leave university this summer, according to a new report.
The Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) North has found that new jobseekers will find it increasingly difficult to get on the career ladder, with nearly one in five already unemployed in the region.
Research by the think tank shows that the double dip recession has created a recruitment freeze, with the latest university leavers, as well as those finishing college and school, most likely to add to worsening jobless figures.
Will Cook, associate fellow with IPPR North, said: “The unwillingness of employers to take on permanent staff can only increase economic insecurity of households and consumer confidence, threatening a vicious circle of low demand.”
IPPR North’s latest economic report shows that almost half of those claiming Job Seekers Allowance in the region have been doing so for more than six months, with the average length of time people are claiming benefits more than double what it was during the 2008/9 recession.
Although some areas, including Yorkshire and Humber, appear to be struggling on, the North East economy looks to be contracting.
“There is evidence that unlike the 2008 to 2009 recession, the double-dip recession this year has differentially affected different areas in the North, with the net effect likely to be an increase in inequality within the North,” said Mr Cook.
The think tank said measures introduced by the Government to tackle youth unemployment will be insufficient to absorb the extra young workers entering the labour market and called for a targeted jobs guarantee to trigger a “summer hiring spree” in the North.
Ed Cox, director of IPPR North, said: “There needs to be a joint effort to prevent a big spike in the number of people not in employment, education or training. Schools need to encourage their students to stay on where they can, colleges need to make extra efforts to recruit next year’s intake, public sector employers need to promote work experience schemes, but above all, employers need to take on apprentices through the various schemes now available.”
The North East Chamber of Commerce (NECC) echoed the IPPR North’s concerns.
Ross Smith, NECC director of policy, said: “The worsening trend in youth unemployment is of great concern and must be addressed at both a national and regional level if we are to accelerate the economic recovery.
“There are vacancies out there in the North East. The manufacturing and engineering sectors, which provide the bedrock for the regional economy, are desperate for qualified and experienced individuals.
“High quality apprenticeships are successful in integrating young people into the workforce, but they are only part of the educational mix. It is imperative that schools, colleges and universities work closely with business to ensure the future labour market’s needs are met and youngsters steered toward qualifications that lead to jobs.
“Our training teams are already dealing with a healthy number of enquiries from businesses looking to take on apprentices this summer, which is a further indicator that there are opportunities out there.”
Earlier this year, deputy prime minister Nick Clegg launched a £1billion youth contract to create training places for teenagers and young adults.
Moves aimed at 16 to 24-year-olds include wage incentives worth up to £2,275 and about 250,000 work experience placements.
Extra resources will also allow Jobcentre advisers to spend more time working with young people and provide a National Careers Service interview.
The IPPR North update comes as the Government announces an independent review into the future of apprenticeships to make sure they deliver the training and skills employers need.