UK graduate
The number of young people in Britain in full-time education has more than doubled over the last 30 yearsReuters

The number of young people in Britain in full time education has more than doubled over the last 30 years, but there are still more than 900,000 16 to 24-year-olds out of work today.

According to official figures, there were more than three million (42%) youngsters who were in full-time education at the end of 2013, up from 1.42 million (17%) in 1984.

Office for National Statistics (ONS) explained that the hike has happened against a backdrop of a falling youth population, which at 7.20 million is one million lower than in 1984 when it was 8.20 million.

The research body said that the number of 16 to 24-year-olds in full-time education rose steadily from 1984 to 1998, where 2.3 million (37%) were in full-time education.

The research also revealed that around 1997, when Tony Blair's New Labour government came to power, there was a sharp rise in those in full-time education[ Fig 1].

ONS young people
The number of young people in full-time education has more than doubled over the last 30 yearsONS

The increase happened around the time of one of the biggest changes in higher education funding for 30 years, when student grants were stopped and some tuition fees were introduced.

But the study found that after 1998 the number continued to increase but at a slower rate than during the 1980s and 1990s.

The ONS said at the start of the 2008 economic downturn in the UK there were 2.8 million in full-time education and there was then a sharp increase after that period.

The research body suggested this rise may reflect more young people staying in full-time education at a time when employment opportunities were lower than before.

The increase in the proportion of young people remaining in full-time education, for example, has happened to both 16 to 17 year olds and 18 to 24-year-olds.

More than eight in ten (83%) of 16 to 17-year-olds were in full-time education at the end of 2013, up from 50% in 1984.

For 18 to 24-year-olds, 32% were in full-time education at the end of 2013, up from just 8% in 1984.

However, despite the encouraging figures from the ONS, youth unemployment is at a high rate of 19.9% and there are more than 900,000 16 to 24-year-olds out of work in the UK.