One issue is that many of the lower end jobs that many people used as starter jobs have gone abroad. Take for example IT, 10-15 years ago many people started as IT Support on the helldesk then took advantage of internal secondments to get jobs in the 2nd and 3rd tier technical careers, I know four IT directors who started in this way. Now, more and more companies are outsourcing IT Support to India or any other country that can do this quite basic job for 1/5th of the cheapest price of someone sitting at a UK desk. Same with many other starter jobs, you can't start at the bottom any more and hope to prove you're good enough because those jobs have gone abroad.
I know more than a few companies are complaining that they can't find good junior techies, that's because they expect them to come out of the woodwork as trained and experienced but don't want to give them that training and experience themselves. It's a self-destructive circle that's just abysmal for Britain, give it 5-10 years and there won't be a good pool of senior techies leaving the only realistic option of outsourcing entire IT departments abroad.
I had a discussion with a finance director once about this and he looked at me as if I were completely bonkers when I suggested that the government should treat these outsourcing deals in the same way that they treat imported goods of premium stuff that we can make ourselves, smack them with a nasty import duty. Surely it's the same principle, work that could be done in the UK is done elsewhere so the government taxes its import into this country.
On the subject of youth unemployment, I spent a bit of my 80s adolescence in Fife with my family chasing fewer and fewer mining jobs. I remember the school making it clear that it was getting harder to get work with the pits all bar shutting down. There were still options though, if you weren't going to university then you had the option of going to Rosyth dockyard for an apprenticeship, they were quite active in the school at enthusing the 15/16 year olds. They took hundreds of apprentices per year, guaranteeing them a full apprenticeship despite there being only about a 1/10 chance of a full adult job at the end in the dockyard but the other 9/10 came out as fully trained and experienced tradesmen. It was essentially the state paying for the training of a large number of skilled workers. That's mostly gone now with the privatisation of the dockyard, its downsizing to about 1/4 capacity and the employers only taking on what apprentices they need. The mining villages there are just pathetic now in their lack of future for the kids, once thriving villages full of workers are now sink estates.
In the past, if you were from one of the mining villages and managed to get to university then you got yourself a degree and a job in the trade of your degree with no real debt. Now, you go to university, get a degree and far more often than not you get a job not in your trade of degree but also get a massive debt to pay back in terms of overdraft, student loans, fee loans and so on. If you're a kid from a mining village with parents on low wages, if they have jobs, and you find out that you're likely to get a £30-£40,000 debt before you start work then that's going to put you off. A degree is an utter waste of time for many employed people but it seems to be the new minimum for many jobs that have no intention of ever using the degree skills learned at university. For example, I saw one of my clients advertising for an IT Support helldesk operator, they wanted massive experience and a 2:1 degree for sitting at a desk answering basic checklist questions.
It's a f***ing depressing state of affairs if you're a 16-18 year old from a working class background these days. I'm damnably glad I don't have to go through that now.