Totalling the hidden talent

This research, commissioned from Inclusion by the Local Government Association, defines a broader measure of ‘slack’ in the youth labour market than that given by the headline unemployment figures. We look at out-of-work young people who want a job in combination with young people who are ‘underemployed’ in various ways, in order to quantify the ‘total hidden talent’: all those young people in England and Wales who aren’t currently working to their potential.

Our definition of the total hidden talent includes:

1. Unemployed young people
2. Economically inactive young people who want a job
3. ‘Underemployed’ young people who want more hours than they currently work
4. Young people on ‘government employment and training schemes’ who are usually doing small amounts of job search, work preparation or work experience
5. Young people who are working in temporary jobs but want permanent work
6. Young people who are ‘over-qualified’ for the work they are doing because they are graduates working in non-graduate roles.

The findings in this paper reveal the scale of youth unemployment and underemployment, and the persistent growth in the group of young people not employed to their potential since before the recession. They point to large local variations in the nature of the problems young people face in the labour market. And they suggest that this situation is unlikely to resolve itself in coming years.