Almost one in five young people in Sunderland is unemployed, according to new research.
Figures from business service specialist EY and independent charity the EY Foundation show unemployment among under-25s on Wearside running at 19.5 per cent.
The picture is repeated across the North East, with the region’s youth unemployment rate of 18.3% the highest in the country.
Middlesbrough is the UK’s youth unemployment hotspot, with 27.3% of under-25s - more than one in four - out of work.
The North East also had a relatively low proportion of people aged 18-24 in full-time education last year - 30.7% - compared to 32.4% for the UK.
North East England Chamber of Commerce policy adviser Paul Carbert said business had to do more to highlight the opportunities available to young people: “The figures are disappointing for our region, but there has been progress since the recession.
Levels of youth unemployment are improving but pockets are still reporting much higher youth unemployment rates than the average, with some cities affected more than others.Mark Hatton
“We are working to develop closer connections between businesses and education which will help young people develop the skills needed by employers.
“Inspiring young people to apply for jobs in growing industries in our region, with targeted support and funding aligned to local economic priorities, will help to address this problem.”
Today’s report shows youth unemployment is highest in urban areas across the country, with rates higher than the regional average in the majority of cities.
Mark Hatton, Senior Partner at EY in the North East, said: “Youth unemployment rates have fallen from the peaks we saw during the recession, when 40% of the UK’s 16-17 year olds were facing unemployment.
“However, a stubbornly high number of young people remain excluded from the labour market, which could be further exacerbated by a period of weaker economic growth in a Brexit environment.
“Looking at this region as a whole, what stands out is that overall levels of youth unemployment are improving but pockets are still reporting much higher youth unemployment rates than the average, with some cities affected more than others.
“These regional differences underline the importance of a coordinated response from Government and business to tackle the issues locally.
“This could potentially be accompanied by more devolution of skills and education to the Northern Powerhouse.”
According to today’s report, youth employment across the UK fell by 166,000 from 2004 to 2015, with the biggest drop, 109,000, seen in the manufacturing sector.
In the last decade, construction and financial and business services have also reduced the number of young people they employ.
Today’s report says future skills development should target those industries that can provide the most opportunities for young people, with manufacturing being one of the most important sectors for growth in the North East.
Nationally, the two sectors that employ the highest proportions of young people – distribution and hospitality – are set to grow, while those in which young people are most likely to have difficulty finding employment - mining and utilities and manufacturing - are expected to see a fall in employment levels up to 2030.
EY Foundation chief executive Maryanne Matthews said: “Maturing workforces, demands for new skills in a knowledge economy, and a projected growth in the number of high-skilled jobs over the next few years, means the need for employers to diversify talent has become a business imperative.
“Flexible and dynamic businesses rely on continuously attracting new skills and experience and yet youth unemployment remains a significant problem in the UK.
“It is imperative that UK employers open their doors to invest in developing the skills of young people. By offering paid work experience opportunities to young people, this could lead to jobs in the future, reduce unemployment rates and help to address the UK skills gap.
“The more employers play an active role in developing young people, the more we can help every young person to have better working prospects now and in the future.”