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Underemployment: the hidden face of the employment crisis

Close-up of hands scanning a barcode in a warehouse.

With the UK’s unemployment rate sitting at a record low of 3.8% , youth employment at 11.6% (lower than pre-pandemic), and record numbers of job vacancies, it’d be logical to think that there is little of concern when it comes to employment rates. But scratch beneath the surface and the picture is far more complex.

Far too many people – of all ages, but particularly young people – are caught in the underemployment trap. Underemployment is, put simply, the hidden face of the unemployment crisis; and it shows no signs of slowing down.

In fact, without concerted steps being taken to stem underemployment, there is a risk of growing a workforce that is undervalued, underused and ultimately disengaged.

Between May and July 2022, Catch22 brought together employability experts, businesses, youth employment champions and job seekers in a series of round tables to explore the subject of underemployment.

We explored the definition of underemployment, its causes, how it affects people and what can be done to tackle it. This short document outlines the key findings.

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