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Young jobless toll at 25,000, figures reveal

Rise in number of young unemployed highlights the 'size of the challenge'

Rise in number of young unemployed highlights the 'size of the challenge'

New figures have revealed the scale of the youth unemployment crisis in Scotland, showing that more than 25,000 16- to 19-year-olds were Neet (not in employment, education or training) in 2011.

The rate of young Neets showed no improvement between 2010 and 2011, with almost one in 10 in that category - at 25,160, an increase of 1,620 on 2006.

The picture across Scotland was not a uniform one, however. While some local authorities, including Falkirk and North Ayrshire, saw a significant decrease in the rate of Neets compared with the previous year, others saw increases of 1.8 per cent (Dumfries and Galloway), 1.2 per cent (Inverclyde) and 1.1 per cent (Clackmannanshire).

The areas with the highest Neet rates in 2011 were Clackmannanshire at 14.1 per cent, West Dunbartonshire with 13 per cent, and North Lanarkshire and East Ayrshire with 12.8 per cent and 12.7 per cent respectively.

The figures, published by the Scottish government earlier this week, also noted a rise in the overall number of young people on benefits - from 18,030 in 2010 to 19,150 in 2011 - attributed to a rise in the number on Jobseeker's Allowance.

Labour education spokesman Neil Findlay said the figures made for "very unhappy reading", underlining the "size of the challenge" and raising issues about the scale of investment needed to provide "good, sustainable and long-term jobs for our young people".

"Jumping out from these figures is how cutting further education funding at a time of high and rising youth unemployment makes no sense, especially when we need to tackle this blight where so many young people are without employment or education," he said.

Conservative education spokeswoman Liz Smith said: "Youth unemployment is, in Scotland, above the UK average, yet, the Scottish government lays the blame at any door but its own."

A Scottish government spokesman stressed that the figures pre-dated the roll-out of Opportunities for All, the government's commitment to offer a place in education, employment or training to every 16- to 19-year-old.

"Since April, we have seen many young people take up places in training or at college to improve their skills and therefore chances of finding employment," he said.

"We are committed to tackling youth unemployment across the country and have funded numerous projects with the specific aim of improving the employability of young people, and we will also deliver at least 25,000 modern apprenticeship places in every year of this parliament."

julia.belgutay@tess.co.uk.

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