A report published last week by The Work Foundation and Private Equity Foundation has uncovered ten blackspots for youth disengagement – cities where between one in five and one in four young people are not in education, employment or training (NEET). The recession exacerbated this problem, with the largest increases in NEET rates in those cities which already had high levels.

Launched as part of a research partnership with the Private Equity Foundation, Off the map? The geography of NEETs examines NEET rates for 16 – 24 year olds across Great Britain. It identifies a group of blackspots for the problem and argues that without effective, targeted action from government and business, a generation of young people in these cities will face a bleak future in the labour market.

The report warns that young people are facing two pressures which are contributing to this worsening trend. Firstly, rapidly rising unemployment means fewer entry level jobs, with young, less experienced workers more vulnerable to job losses. This has led to a crisis in youth employment rates, with Q3 figures expected to exceed one million. Alongside this, spending cuts are restricting youth services and reducing the ability of government to respond to the crisis.

Neil Lee, author and Senior Economist, said: “The number of young people who are NEET is one of the UK’s most serious social problems. For a young person, being out of education, employment or training can have major ramifications, including long-term reductions in wages and increased chances of unemployment later in life, as well as social or psychological problems arising as a result of sustained unemployment.”

Shaks Ghosh, Chief Executive, Private Equity Foundation, said: “This report has highlighted the great disparity in opportunities for young people across Great Britain. The fact that nearly a quarter of 16 to 24 year olds are disengaged from education or employment in certain cities is not only shocking but very sad. Children from deprived areas urgently need the right support to continue in school, go to college or to get a job. To neglect these NEETs, risks a crisis in too many of our communities”

Among the chief blackspots identified are cities such as Grimsby, Doncaster and Blackpool. Parts of London, such as Hackney and Newham, also have high rates of young people NEET.

Of those cities with relatively low levels of NEETs, Oxford, Aberdeen and York come out as the best performers, with cities such as Portsmouth and Plymouth also coming performing well.

NEET blackspots face major social problems unless action is taken at local and national levels to tackle the issue. The report recommends that local government focuses on the better coordination of services at a local level, ensuring clear pathways between school, education and the world of work. It also calls on the government to ensure better data is made available to analyse the extent of the problem.