Transport Barriers to Youth Employment
Authors: Katy Jones
By Katy Jones
14 December 2012
In the first report from our Missing Million programme, we found that transport can present a significant barrier for young people in their search for work. Today (14 Dec) we release a new policy paper, “Transport Barriers to Youth Employment”, which digs a bit deeper into this issue.
For the labour market to function efficiently, an affordable and accessible transport system is essential- and for young people in particular, public transport is key to accessing job and training opportunities. Young people are less likely to have access to a car, and are more likely to travel to work by bus. Particularly in more depressed local labour markets, good links to stronger employment centres are vital.
Yet the cost of transport is increasing despite a noticeable decline in service provision. This has a disproportionate impact on young people who rely more on these services than other groups and typically have lower wages or benefit levels. Rising costs and declining services can not only make it difficult for young jobseekers to attend job interviews, it can also make it a struggle for them to stay in work if they do get a job. The problem varies depending on where young people live and the resources they have access to, and is particularly problematic for those living in rural areas.
Some schemes are already in place to try and help young people get access to jobs. Wheels to Work, for example, is a successful initiative which provides young jobseekers around the country with mopeds. For many, particularly those living in rural communities, this has been an important lifeline. In other places, community or ‘supported’ transport schemes can work well, although these have proved highly vulnerable to cuts in local government budgets.
Current responses to transport disadvantage amongst young jobseekers fall short. A free month of bus travel for jobseekers announced earlier this week is a nice start for jobseekers in the new year, but for real impact a longer term deal needs to be struck. Our new report argues that:
Central government needs to ensure that young jobseekers, particularly the long-term unemployed are able to access concessionary fares. They also need to ensure that current support for travel to and from school for under-16s is increased in line with planned increases in the participation age.
Work Programme providers and other support agencies should ensure that transport barriers faced by young jobseekers are identified and addressed.
Local government should ensure that young people are consulted effectively over the planning and provision of local transport services, and local transport budgets should provide stable and long-term support for effective community and personal transport schemes.
Information services such as Traveline should also be improved, with better advertising and efforts to ensure they are accessible and accurate.
Whilst transport is not the only barrier to work that young people face, it is clearly an important obstacle for some and must be addressed.
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