Young adults

16-24 year old Londoners

Date 31 August 2017
Date updated 15 January 2018

London's young adults do well in education, and this is particularly true for disadvantaged pupils in London compared to their counterparts in the rest of England. For 19 year olds, the gap in attainment between disadvantaged and non-disadvantaged students is lower than in the rest of England - 15 percentage points compared to 28 percentage points.  This has been a major success story for London since the early 2000s.

However, although disadvantaged London pupils are the most likely to go on to higher education, they remain much less likely than non-disadvantaged pupils to attend the elite "Russell Group" of universities.

Moreover, higher qualifications have not yet fed through to better job outcomes. The percentage of young people not in education, employment or training after their A Levels is similar in London (10% in Inner London, 8% in Outer London) to the rest of England (9%). And 16-24 year olds in London are more likely to be unemployed than other working age adults (9% compared to 4% for 25-64 year olds). This gap is similar in the rest of England, though the unemployment figures are lower. 

Young adults are also much more likely to be paid below the London Living Wage than older adults - partly because the statutory  minimum wage is lower for under 21s.

Young adults: Indicators

19 year olds lacking qualifications over time

Educational attainment improved more in London than in the rest of England in the early part of the last decade, but since 2012/13, improvements have stalled in many areas. The exception is Level 3 attainment in Inner London, where the proportion of 19-year-olds lacking these qualifications has continued to decline steadily.

 In 2016, 19-year-olds in the rest of England were more likely to lack Level 3 qualifications than those in London. 34% of 19-year-olds in Outer London lacked Level 3 qualifications (AS and A-Level qualifications)*, compared with 35% in Inner London and 44% in the rest of England.

The proportion of 19-year-olds lacking Level 2 (GCSE-level qualifications)** is similar in London and the rest of England. 14% of 19-year-olds in Inner London and 12% in Outer London lacked Level 2 qualifications compared with 15% in the rest…

The change in the FSM gap over time

For 19-year-olds in London in 2016, there was a 15 percentage point difference (attainment gap) between the proportion of pupils who had been eligible for free school meals (at age 15) and the proportion of all other students attaining Level 3 qualifications.* For the rest of England, the attainment gap was almost twice as big – 28 percentage points. 

The attainment gap has fallen in London (from 19.5% in 2006 to 15% in 2016) over the past decade, while in the rest of England it has not changed significantly. 

 As discussed in 10.2, the shrinking of the attainment gap is seen as a key factor in the ‘London effect’.

* In the London Poverty Profile 2015, this indicator used ‘proportion lacking five A* – C GCSEs including maths and English’ which cannot be used this year (see footnote 4). This year’s graph shows the attainment gap (in percenta…

19 year olds lacking a Level 3 qualification by borough

In every London borough, the majority of 19-year-olds have Level 3 qualifications. Barking & Dagenham has the highest proportion of 19-year-olds lacking Level 3 qualifications at 46%, followed by Havering at 44%.

There is huge variation across boroughs with a 21 percentage point gap between the worst performing borough – Barking & Dagenham, and the best performing boroughs – Redbridge, Kensington & Chelsea and Harrow (in all three, only 25% of 19-year-olds lack Level 3 qualifications).

The pattern of qualifications by borough looks similar to 2014, with boroughs in the Outer West & Northwest and Inner West generally performing better on this measure than Outer East & Northeast. In previous editions of this report, Greenwich has been the worst performer, with 48% lacking a Level 3 qualification in 2014. It is now 41%, an…

Post-school destinations of pupils

This graph shows that London pupils who entered an A-level or equivalent in 2014/15 were more likely to go on to higher education in 2015/16 (58% in Outer London, 57% in Inner London) than their counterparts in the rest of England (47%).

In the rest of England, pupils who undertake A-levels are more likely to move directly into employment at age 19 (24%), than in Outer London (16%) or Inner London (12%). This group of young people is a relatively small proportion of total youth employment at age 19 – 83,000 of the 360,000 employed 19-year-olds. The majority of 19-year-olds in the labour market probably did not take A-levels.*

Young people in London are less likely to undertake apprenticeships after A-levels (4% in Inner & Outer London) than the rest of England (8%). The government hopes the apprenticeship levy**, which came into effect…

Pupils entering Higher Educational Institutions (HEIs)

Both disadvantaged and non-disadvantaged students from London have higher rates of attending higher education institutions (HEIs) than pupils in the rest of England. Disadvantaged students in Inner London actually have the highest rate of attending HEIs – 59%. This will be important to monitor over time, as abolition of maintenance grants (2016) may lead to a decline in disadvantaged students attending HEIs.

This general pattern extends to the top third of HEIs (excluding the Russell Group), with higher proportions of both disadvantaged and non-disadvantaged pupils from London attending these universities than their counterparts in the rest of England. 

However, despite educational attainment gains in London for disadvantaged students, this is not translating through to improved representation of poorer students in elite Russell Group univ…

Unemployment by age

This graph shows the level of unemployment by age for both London and the rest of the UK. Unemployment is higher for 16 to 24-year-olds than for older working-age adults in both London and the rest of England. 9.4% of young adults in London are unemployed, compared with 3.6% of 25 to 64-year-olds. In the rest of England, the gures are 8.3% and 2.8% respectively. Young adult unemployment ratios have fallen quickly since 2013 in London and the rest of England, for London down from a peak of 13.9%. While unemployment for young adults in London is higher than in the rest of England by 1.1 percentage points, the difference is not as large as it used to be. Between 1995 and 2004 it was around three percentage points. The gap between the employment rate of 25 to 64-year-olds in London and the rest of England was smaller in 201…

Insecure workers by age

This graph shows the proportion of employees aged 16 to 64 who are at risk of being in insecure employment by age group in London and the rest of England. Here we define the risk of insecure work as being on a zero-hours contract, in temporary employment, working for an agency, or some combination of these. It is important to note that this does not mean that all workers will experience these forms of employment negatively. This indicator also looks only at employees, and not self- employed workers who might be on a zero-hours, temporary or agency contract.

Since the recession the UK as a whole has seen a larger increase in insecure work than many other countries.* The Trades Union Congress found that the number of people in insecure work, which it defines as those working without guaranteed hours or baseline employment rights, increased …

Rough sleeping over time

8,100 people were seen sleeping rough at least once by a homeless outreach team in London in 2016/17, the same number as the previous year. The number of people sleeping rough in London has increased dramatically since 2007, and in 2015/16 was almost three times the number a decade ago in 2006. 

Over the period where rough sleeping has risen, the number of new rough sleepers has also risen, from 1,600 in 2007 to 5,100 in 2016/17. There is a high turnover, with 77% of rough sleepers seen sleeping out only once or twice. 

Only 15% of people recorded as sleeping rough in London in 2016/17 were women. However, many homeless women are ‘hidden homeless’ (for example they are sofa surfing or being sexually exploited in exchange for shelter) in order to avoid sleeping on the streets (where they also face a very high risk of sexual violence and exp…

Age profile of London population

London’s population by age is structured differently to the rest of England’s. London has a much higher proportion of its population in the age range 25–34 than the rest of England. This is particularly the case for Inner London for which it makes up 24% of the population. It makes up 16% of the Outer London population and 13% of the rest of England population. London also has a higher proportion of children under the age of 5 than the rest of England.

London has a lower proportion of people in all age groups from 45 and above in comparison to the rest of England. The difference starts small at just half a percentage point in the 45 – 49 age group but then increases in each age group to a peak of 2.3 percentage points for 65 – 69 year olds. It then slowly decreases again to just 1 percentage point for those aged…