The UK labour market is the strongest it has been for years. Over the past year, the number of people in employment has increased by 302,000. The employment rate stands at a new record high of 74.6%. The unemployment rate remains at 4.8%—the lowest rate in over 10 years.
My hon. Friend is right: long-term unemployment can significantly damage anyone, particularly young people. I welcome the recent employment statistics, which show that 3 million 16 to 24-year-olds are full-time students, and another 3 million have left full-time education and are working. Together they account for 86% of all young people in the UK, the joint highest on record. She is right that there is always more to do, which is why, in April, we are introducing the youth obligation to ensure that young people are fully supported as they progress into work and while they are at work.