Who Are Generation Meh?

An investigation into the new Lost Generation within the UK.

Crunching the numbers – unemployment

Youth unemployment is a big issue right now, especially as the Office of National Statistics has just published the latest stats on the UK labour market which cover June to August 2013.

I’ve tried to crunch some of the numbers using the openly available data.

Unemployment rate 2003 - 2013 by age

Unemployment rate 2003 – 2013 by age

The chart above shows the unemployment rate for the last decade shown by age range.

As of June – August 2013, a third of 16-17 year olds are unemployed. 16-17 unemployment rate increased sharply over the last 5 years or so, however, the total number of 16-17 year olds has stayed level. That’s explained by this House of Commons Library briefing paper. More young people are choosing to stay in education which pushes the unemployment rate up.

That’s not because they’re counted as unemployed as well. As students, they are ‘economically inactive’ because they aren’t currently seeking work. As a side effect, less people are in employment. This pushes up the unemployment rate because it is, calculated by dividing the number of unemployed people by the total number of ‘economically active’ people.

Similarly, a fifth of 18 – 24 year olds are unemployed. This drops to 6% (or a little bit more than 1 in 20) for 25 – 50 year olds then 4.5% for 50 year olds and over.

It will be interesting to see what the increase in participation age for school leavers, which requires young people to continue studying full time, working part time and studying part time or being an apprentice until their 18th birthday, will do to the unemployment rate.

I also managed to have a play around with the Higher Education Statistics Agency’s Unistats KIS Dataset* which is an aggregation of all kinds of data about full and part-time undergraduate courses in the UK, which is freely available to download and also makes up the data available at official website for comparing undergraduate courses, Unistats.

I made a pivot table for Microsoft Excel that you can use to find out the employment rates (6 months after graduation for academic year 2011/12) for UK universities and their undergraduate courses. I used it to make this chart of employment rates of some Lancashire universities (I know University of Cumbria isn’t a Lancashire university but it does have a campus in Lancashire):

Lancashire Universities

Lancashire Universities

Here’s the file if you’d like to download it and have a play with if yourself using the pivot table sheet. You can narrow the stats down by university and then drill down to individual courses too: http://j.mp/KIStable.

It’s interesting to have a play with it like we did between workshops today. Using the Report filter of the pivot table, you can work out which courses have the highest employment rate out of all the courses reported. For instance, did you know that all of the students that studied for FdSc Health and Social Care (Assistant Practitioner) at UCLan in 2011/12 were in employment six months later (the only 100% course that year for UCLan). Here’s a second opinion from the Unistats website itself.

If you felt like it, you could also look up the course with the “worst” employment prospects. At the moment, it’s four courses run by Bradford College including this one all with an assumed unemployment rate of 55%. After further research, Bradford College are changing the partner university that awards their degrees and the Unistats website itself reports it as a new or small sized course, which makes it difficult to provide accurate data for.

Although it’s a useful tool to glance over the stats, you need to approach it with some common sense. For example, a foundation degree should be expected to have a high rate of students in study 6 months later because it can be taken as an entry requirement to a bachelors degree.

The figures suggest that employment after studying at University is high. So where should we be looking to find the lost generation?

* The Unistats Dataset is reproduced with the permission of the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) and their licensors. The Unistats Dataset may be accessed in its original form here: http://www.hesa.ac.uk/unistatsdata.  All copyright and other intellectual property rights in the Unistats Dataset are owned by HEFCE, HESA and their licensors.


One comment on “Crunching the numbers – unemployment

  1. hwsdigitalrhetoric
    November 7, 2013

    Reblogged this on hwsdigitalrhetoric and commented:
    Look at the latest stats to find out how marketable you are……….

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This entry was posted on November 7, 2013 by in Employment and tagged , , , .
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