Many young people in Bradford are turning to full-time study because job prospects are low, says a city MP.
New figures show nearly half of 16 to-24-year-olds in the city are full-time students – more than the national average.
The figures, released today, mirror a national trend which has seen the number of young people studying full-time more than double in 30 years.
Bradford’s tally of 45.5 per cent compares to 39.2 per cent in Calderdale, 46.5 per cent in Kirklees, 56.2 per cent in Leeds and 33.2 in Wakefield. The national average is 42 per cent.
Bradford West Respect MP George Galloway said the figures disguised pockets of high unemployment.
“One of the most prominent is that of Bradford West, which has the seventh highest youth jobless rate in the country,” he said.
“It’s a fallacy that there are jobs and apprenticeships. Many young people are going into tuition and becoming students because they know their chances of getting a job are low.”
While the number of those out of work is broadly steady, there are concerns about young people making the transition into work.
Bradford Council’s lead member on employment and skills, Councillor Susan Hinchcliffe, said the district had “great challenges” with the 18 to 24 age group. “The number of young claimants is 70 per cent higher than before the recession,” she said.
“It’s hard for some to get a foot on the ladder when there are lots of people recently redundant with experience.”
Bradford East Lib Dem MP David Ward is to investigate the reasons why some 600 apprenticeship vacancies across the city remain unfilled.
“Is there a problem in Bradford at pre-apprenticeship level? If so, this urgently needs addressing,” said Mr Ward, whose constituency has the ninth highest youth unemployment rate in the country, at 11.4 per cent of 18 to 24-year-olds.
The data is in a new report on young people in the labour market from the Office of National Statistics, which also flags up a growing issue of young people in a caring role. Of those not seeking work, the most common reason was looking after home or family. Some 38 per cent were in this bracket.
Mr Ward insisted: “In Bradford we have 600 apprenticeship vacancies at a time when there is large-scale youth unemployment. The big question is: do young people know about these opportunities. Or do they not have the skills to tackle an apprenticeship?”
Mr Ward said caring was also a growing issue among young people. “We have an ageing population and a great deal of support can be needed,” he said.
Coun Hinchcliffe said the report’s publication coincided with National Apprenticeship Week. “Bradford's Apprenticeship Training Agency has live vacancies with small businesses on it's website atabradford.co.uk and I’d encourage young people considering this career path to take a look,” she said.
Keighley MP Kris Hopkins (Con) said: “Tacking youth unemployment is a hugely important issue, particularly in places like Keighley and Bradford where we have a relatively high number of young people coming into the workforce.”