Young people living in rural areas are struggling much more to find opportunities in the recession compared with those living in cities, a new government study warns.

The Commission for Rural Communities (CRC) is publishing a report this week that states that youths living in the countryside face a “number of rural barriers” including access to transport, careers advice, training support and youth services.

Latest figures from the Official of National Statistics show that of those young people aged between 16 and 24 in rural areas, a staggering 45% were either unemployed – 103,904 (11%), or economically inactive – 316,910 (34%).

High fuel costs and an reliance on the car are big reasons why young people are struggling to stay in education or find a job, the report states.

“There is a great risk that vulnerable young people located within smaller pockets of deprivation, which are often more prevalent in rural areas, will be less likely to receive the sufficient support they require to help them into employment, education or training,” the report says.

Since the start of the economic downturn, the number of young people not in education, training or employment (Neets) in rural areas has risen by more than one-third, compared to one-fifth in cities.

CRC chairman Stuart Burgess hoped the report would “shine a light on one of the most important issues facing England’s rural areas – the future of its young people”.

He added: “The high number of young Neets across the country is clearly a matter of considerable concern for young people, communities and policy makers. I hope this report will be a catalyst for addressing the range of uniquely intractable barriers they in rural areas face.”

The trend towards outward migration of young people in rural areas is an on-going concern, as highlighted in the latest government Rural Advocate report, which warned that a lack of jobs and affordable housing was driving young people out of the countryside.

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