Headlines about falling youth unemployment figures are in danger of obscuring the plight of the long-term unemployed, according to the Chief Executive of leading football and education charity Street League.

Findings from a new report by the Institute for Public Policy Research warned that “a full-blown economic recovery is unlikely to solve the problem of youth unemployment in the UK”, and Street League CEO Matt Stevenson-Dodd said: “It is good to hear that overall unemployment is falling, but the problem of structural youth unemployment is not going away. Even in a growing economy it is estimated that between 7 and 9% of young people are unemployed.”

Despite youth unemployment rates falling from 20.9% in 2013 to 17.8% this year, there are still 868,000 young people aged 16 to 24 who are unemployed with 767,000 not having a job. Worryingly 247,000 of those young people have been looking for work for more than a year.

The award-winning Street League Academy programme, which helps 16 to 25-year-olds from disadvantaged backgrounds get into employment, education and training, currently runs in 14 regions across the UK but continues to expand with Academies shortly opening in Leeds, Middlesbrough, Sheffield, and Birmingham.

With such figures highlighting the problems still facing young people in the UK, Matt added: “When it comes to making sure young people have the skills and motivation to find and sustain work, we simply cannot afford to take our eye off the ball.”

Long-term unemployment is proven to have an adverse effect on physical and mental health, confidence and earnings potential for the future. It has also been shown to increase the likelihood of anti-social behaviour.

Recent research by the UK Commission for Employment and Skills shows that just under half a million young people still need to find work for youth unemployment rates to return to pre-recession levels. The report, Precarious Futures: youth employment in an international context, also shows youth unemployment in the UK has been more than three times higher than adult unemployment rates for over a decade - a ratio higher than almost all other European countries - suggesting that despite youth unemployment falling in recent months, there are still structural and deep-rooted barriers in the labour market for young people.