The situation facing young people in the face of the Covid-19 crisis is showing the signs of being a big worry.

The debate around lost school time continues, amidst the efforts to restore some invaluable time in our schools before the Summer holidays, even if on a phased and restricted basis.

In the next few days some apprentices will be able to return to our colleges and complete the practical assessments they need to achieve their qualifications. Hopefully that will give them some hope of employment, though the shrinkage in the general economy is a major concern.

(Dawn and Gerald Jones MP on a visit to Merthyr college prior to lockdown) 

Significant sectors of the economy are still unable to return to previous levels of activity along with the employment opportunities that form the part of many young people’s lives are not available. Significant sectors like aerospace and automotive are re-shaping themselves in the wake of the virus.

The problems for young people are reflected in emerging statistics, though there will be a time lag before the fuller impacts of the virus are known. Thanks to the Senedd Research Service who have confirmed as follows:

“ILO youth unemployment

The International Labour Organisation (ILO) youth unemployment rate is the number of ILO unemployed persons as a percentage of the economically active population aged between 16 and 24.  It is the primary measure of youth unemployment.  People who are ILO unemployed include those who are out of work and want a job, have actively sought work in the last four weeks and are available to start work in the next two weeks; plus those who are out of work, have found a job and are waiting to start in the next two weeks.

The ILO unemployment data is obtained from the ONS Annual Population Survey/ Labour Force Survey and tends to fluctuate between time periods at a small geographical level. As you’ll see from the spreadsheet, for a number of constituencies and local authorities the figure is not provided.  This is because the Office for National Statistics (ONS) does not publish this information when less than 500 people in a particular age group are ILO unemployed in a constituency or local authority.  Therefore, caution should be taken when using these figures. Due to the sample based nature of the Annual Population Survey/ Labour Force Survey the data for constituencies and local authorities are only available on a rolling 12 monthly basis.

The latest statistics show that in January 2019-December 2019, 24,900 people (12.0%) aged 16 to 24 were ILO unemployed in Wales.  The figure for Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney constituency was below 500 (8.1%) and for Merthyr Tydfil local authority was also below 500 (9.6%).

Claimant count

The experimental claimant count series counts the number of people claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance plus those who claim Universal Credit and are required to seek work and be available for work and replaces the number of people claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance as the headline indicator of the number of people claiming benefits principally for the reason of being unemployed.

The claimant count is generally lower than the ILO definition, because some unemployed people are either not entitled to claim benefits, or choose not to do so.  It is the most up-to-date unemployment measure as new figures are published each month, particularly for smaller areas such as constituencies and local authorities. It is not possible to calculate the claimant count rates; however as claimant count figures are more up-to-date I have included these.

The latest statistics show that the claimant count for people aged 16-24 increased in Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney constituency from 465 in March 2020 to 720 in April 2020. The claimant count for people aged 16-24 in Merthyr Tydfil local authority increased from 320 in March 2020 to 535 in April 2020”.

Source: Senedd Research Service



All this reinforces my view that one strand of our wok as we hopefully move through the period of Covid-19 is to deliver a national mission that provides hope for the next generation.

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