(Bloomberg) -- The number of young people out of work due to ill health in Britain has doubled in a decade, with the problem most acute among those with poor qualifications, according to new research.
The Resolution Foundation said 185,000 people aged 18 to 24 were too sick to work last year. Around four in five had qualifications at GCSE-level or below, indicating they left education at age 16.
The combination of ill health and low attainment at school is putting young people at a double disadvantage by dimming their chances of getting a job in future if their health improves, the researcher said.
It is also costing the economy as a whole, with companies struggling to fill vacancies after hundreds of thousands of people left the labor force since the pandemic.
Many who dropped out are in their 50s and early 60s suffering from health conditions. In his budget in March, Chancellor Jeremy Hunt offered billions of pounds of incentives to get them working again.
Under the Radar
However, the Resolution Foundation said a focus on older workers means the plight of many who should be starting careers has gone under the radar.
“We cannot afford to let young people who are workless due to health problems get left behind, so we need both to improve their education opportunities and to ensure that everyone has access to better mental health support,” said Louise Murphy, an economist at the think tank.
The study noted that overall levels of youth worklessness are low. A common mental health disorder was cited by the majority of those too ill work prior to the pandemic, suggesting an educational divide when it comes to seeking help.
“With children and young people’s mental health services under considerable strain, and waiting times varying hugely between different parts of the UK, reducing these delays should be a policy priority,” Resolution said.
The report will raise fresh concerns about the damaging effect Covid lockdowns had on the education of young people.
Almost 80% of GCSE students said they suffered academically due to the pandemic, according to Office for National Statistics research published Friday. Only a third of young people in deprived areas said their studies left them prepared for their subsequent job or education.
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