SHOCKING new figures reveal long-term youth unemployment has rocketed by 384 per cent in the North-East since the start of the recession - prompting claims that young people are losing confidence, skills and hope.
The number of under-24s seeking Jobseekers’ Allowance for at least six months stands at 13,870 - an increase of more than 11,000 since 2008, according to a study by The Prince’s Trust.
In North Yorkshire, the rise in long-term youth unemployment is even steeper at 434 per cent - with claimants increasing from 175 to 935 in four years.
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The figures were released ahead of new unemployment figures due out on Wednesday.
Jonathan Townsend, regional director for The Prince’s Trust in the North of England, said: “Thousands of young people in the North-East are struggling to find work, and increasingly, many are becoming trapped in a cycle of long-term joblessness.
“They are losing confidence and skills - and, sadly, many are losing hope.” The Prince’s Trust will hold its first live-streamed youth forum event on Wednesday to help unemployed young people.
The event is supported by celebrities and Prince’s Trust ambassadors, Alesha Dixon, Mark Ronson and Brooke Kinsella.
Speaking ahead of the event, Mr Townsend praised the Foundation for Jobs campaign, a joint initiative to tackle youth unemployment involving Darlington Borough Council, The Northern Echo and the Darlington Partnership.
He said: “The success of the Foundation for Jobs campaign will provide a much-needed boost to young people across the North East who are struggling to find work.”
The study revealed County Durham - up 606 per cent - and Darlington - an increase of 567 per cent - had seen among the highest rises in long-term youth unemployment.
However, rural areas of North Yorkshire such as Richmondshire and Ryedale - often perceived to be wealthy - had not escaped the pain.
Last night, union leaders warned the issue of youth joblessness was leaving “deep and permanent scars on the aspiration and life chances of young people”.
Kevin Rowan, regional secretary of the Northern TUC, which this week produced its own report on the problem ahead of a march in London on Saturday against the coalition’s austerity measures, said: “Long-term youth unemployment should be something that is exercising this government and generating action to enable young people to have a decent start in work and in life.
“Instead, this callous government is removing vital employment support, even further removing the chances of young people moving into work. “ But a Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) rejected claims that long-term youth unemployment had increased dramatically.
A spokesman said: “Previously youth unemployment was hidden by transferring people off Jobseekers’ Allowance temporarily.
“That no longer happens so the figures now give a more accurate picture and there are fewer young people on Jobseekers’ Allowance or other temporary support than in May 2010.”
However, the DWP admitted youth unemployment was still a big challenge.
"Over the next three years the Youth Contract will offer nearly 500,000 opportunities for young people through work experience, apprenticeships and wage subsidies to help them find work,” the spokesman added.
* The Prince’s Trust Youth Forum, supported by HSBC, can be viewed at facebook.com/princestrust at 2pm on Wednesday (OCT17).