Hidden in Plain Sight: Young Londoners out of work and unsupported

Today London Youth have launched new research – Hidden in Plain Sight –  shining a light on the hundreds of thousands of young Londoners who are currently ‘hidden’ from the capital’s economy.

According to the research ‘Hidden’ young Londoners are typically aged 18-25, are not engaged in employment, education or training and not receiving any welfare benefits. A staggering 480k young people are ‘hidden’ nationally each year. This is not only detrimental to their wellbeing and future prospects, but also results in a £440m loss of revenue from potential income tax/national insurance contributions.


  • Unemployed young people who do not access welfare benefits or statutory support are often excluded from employability programmes because they are too qualified or are in part time/insecure employment, such as zero hours contracts.
  • Many ‘hidden’ young people are closer to the job market than we might imagine having achieved good GCSE qualifications and continued with their education beyond 16.
  • Often ‘hidden’ young people were also facing complex and challenging circumstances beyond their control, such as caring responsibilities or mental ill health, meaning that appropriate support/interventions were also needed to prevent a negative impact on their employment outcomes.


  1. Choose to see the hidden. Unemployment statistics should include details of the number of young people who are unemployed and not claiming benefits, as well as provide a more accurate picture of the employment.
  2. Enable access to statutory support. The Government should review current arrangements under the Youth Obligation to ensure that Job Centres provide meaningful and adequate support for young people.
  3. Bridge the gap. Funders and commissioners should ensure there is designated funding in place for programmes that provide specialist employment support for young people and that programme eligibility criteria do not exclude hidden young people or those in precarious work.
  4. Informed choices. The Government’s Careers Strategy should recognise the needs of older young people and ensure that all young people have access to independent, personalised and impartial careers advice throughout adolescence and into adulthood.
  5. Start at home. Funders should invest in building the evidence base for effective models of support and advice that involve and empower families by funding pilot programmes and approaches that draw on this critical source of support.
  6. Beyond employability. Funders and commissioners of employability programmes should ensure that adequate time and resource is built into programmes to support young people

Rosemary Watt-Wyness, Chief Executive of London Youth said:

“Youth organisations have always played a vital (yet informal) role in supporting the work of our statutory employment agencies with young people. That’s because they are best placed within local communities across London and trusted by the young people seeking support to navigate their transition from education into work.

The inclusion and funding of the youth sector as an equal partner to Government and the business sector is absolutely critical to the success of future youth-centric employment initiatives. Our research provides clear guidance on how we can all better support ‘hidden’ young people to overcome existing barriers and is essential reading for all.”

London Youth is calling for an overhaul of youth strategies and a tripartite approach between Government, business and youth sectors to fund youth-centric employment initiatives and re-engage these young people.


For more information, please email info@youthemployment.org.uk or call 01536 513388.

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