This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies.Find out more here


To discuss how you and your organisation can get more involved with The Work Foundation, please contact us.

Call 020 7976 3575 or email


Dr Benjamin Reid
Senior Researcher, Big Innovation Centre
T 020 7976 3552
Dr Benjamin Reid

The Work Foundation at party conferences: Tackling youth unemployment

Authors: Dr Benjamin Reid Dr Ben Reid

11 September 2013

Long-term youth unemployment has been possibly the greatest tragedy of the UK labour market since the recession with the jobless rate for 16-24 year olds persistently above 20%. Despite positive signs in the labour market in general, the latest labour market statistics suggest young people are still being left out. But in fact, youth unemployment was rising even before the recession. For years now, politicians have been deliberating the best way to tackle the crisis – too often government and big business have blamed each other for failing to do enough. 

This year, The Work Foundation at the party conferences will be looking at young people’s experiences of employment and the labour market in this tough environment. We’re delighted to be working on this crucial public policy issue with KFC – a major employer of young people in the UK, and a regular leader of the ‘Britain’s Top Employers’ statistics. Watch James Watts, Vice President of Human Resources at KFC UK, speaking about our collaboration ahead of this year’s party conferences.

So what’s been driving these high levels of youth unemployment? Creating overall growth in the economy will make the biggest difference to young people’s employment prospects. But we also need to pay attention to a range of other questions:

- Are Local Authority youth unemployment schemes failing to support young people into long-term employment?

- Do young people lack adequate skills for entry into the labour market?

- Do young people have unrealistic expectations of the job market?

- Is it more important to ensure young people have any job or should we be trying to direct them only into good jobs?

- How should big business and government share the responsibility for tackling youth unemployment?

The findings of our major new KFC Youth Insight survey, produced by The Work Foundation with IFF Research, will be published later on in the autumn. The Youth Insight party conference discussions will be an important opportunity for policymakers, employers, party members and young people themselves to debate the best solutions to the continuing youth unemployment crisis.

With young people contributing questions and comments through social media, and political headliners and high-profile journalists on our panel discussions, we hope to gain greater insights into the youth unemployment problem and find long-term solutions for the next generation.

For further information on our other youth unemployment and Big Innovation Centre events at the Liberal Democrat, Labour and Conservative party conferences, please visit