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Job prospects 'postcode lottery'

School leavers are set to face a postcode lottery in finding jobs, as youth unemployment soars in parts of the UK, a study suggests.

It argues that there is now a north-south divide, with youngsters in the North East and Scotland facing the worst prospects. At the same time, London and the South East remain relatively unaffected by youth unemployment, according to a study by education specialists Ambitious Minds.

The study warns that teenagers who are picking up their GCSE results this week have seen the most "dramatic" changes to their prospects and expectations than any other secondary school year group for 70 years.

When they began their education, and when they started secondary school, unemployment rates were low. But the last five years have brought "economic deterioration, systemic failures, false dawns and empty promises," it says.

The organisation looked at the impact of the recession on job prospects and found hotspots of youth unemployment throughout the UK, based on published figures.

The North East, Scotland and Yorkshire and the Humber have all had rises in youth unemployment that are twice as large as those in London and the South East, which have seen only small increases, it claims.

Overall, the North East of England had seen the biggest rises. In September 2007, 5.1% of 16-to-24-year-olds in the region were claiming jobseekers' allowance. By July 2012 this had risen to 8.6% - an increase of 3.5 percentage points.

At the other end of the scale, London had seen an increase of 1.4 percentage points, and in the South East there had been a rise of 1.6 percentage points.

Sean McGuire, chief executive of Ambitious Minds, said: "Those areas which have suffered disproportionately in the last five years need support to prevent unemployment, and especially long-term unemployment, becoming normalised."

A Scottish Government spokesman said: "Scotland has an overall lower rate of unemployment than the rest of the UK as well as a higher youth employment rate. Sixteen to 24-year-olds have also seen the largest increase in employment of any key age group - up by 10,000 - over the last year."

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