Young unemployment figures soar

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THE number of young people out of work in Edinburgh for more than a year has soared, according to latest figures.

The figures show that a year ago 75 people aged between 18 and 24 had been claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) for 12 months or more, but now that number has rocketed to 300.

The UK Government says part of the reason is that young people are no longer taken off JSA when they go on training schemes. But officials admit the dramatic rise also reflects the current economic situation.

Edinburgh East Labour MP, Sheila Gilmore, said young people desperately needed action to help them get jobs. She said: “The number of young people out of work for a year in Edinburgh is up 300 per cent in the last year, yet complacent ministers refuse to take the decisive action they need to get young people into work.”

Ms Gilmore, who sits on the Commons work and pensions committee, said there was a growing gap in youth unemployment between the south-east of England and the rest of the UK.

Unemployment figures published yesterday showed an overall fall both in Scotland and across the UK, but the number of people claiming out-of-work benefits increased.

In Edinburgh and the Lothians, an extra 1260 people joined the dole queue between March 2011 and March this year, taking the total to 20,366.

Tory finance spokesman and Lothians MSP, Gavin Brown, said: “It is important both the UK and Scottish governments do all they can to help support businesses create jobs.” Lothians Labour MSP shadow youth unemployment minister, Kezia Dugdale, said youth unemployment was a national crisis.

She said: “There are now four times as many long-term young unemployed people in Edinburgh as this time last year. The SNP need to get a grip of this crisis now. The factors behind long term youth unemployment all fall at their door.”

But the SNP said it was delivering 25,000 modern apprenticeships a year and had guaranteed every 16 to 19-year-old a place in employment, education or training.

A spokesman for Finance Secretary John Swinney said: “Labour are being hypocritical because they voted against the record number of modern apprenticeships.”

Scottish Secretary of State for Scotland Michael Moore said there was a big challenge ahead to get more people back into jobs. He said: “We have made youth unemployment a priority and have taken significant steps to remove the barriers to getting young people into work.”