SCHOOL leavers from poorer families are significantly more likely to be unemployed regardless of which subjects they have studied, new research shows.

Seven out of 10 S4 school leavers whose parents were in long-term unemployment or inactive found themselves out of work, training or further education after up to four years later, the study found.

Meanwhile, half of S4 school leavers with parents in routine manual jobs were also unemployed or inactive after three or four years.

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By contrast, less than a third of their peers with parents in a managerial or professional occupation were out of work.

Campaigners said the findings showed the need for a wider approach to tackling childhood poverty as well as practical assistance on places to study and access to the internet.

Poverty Alliance also said with the official focus on sanctions and benefits "rather than helping people into work" made it increasingly difficult for young people to access employment.”

The Edinburgh University reports comes just days after it emerged the number of school leavers going onto 'positive destinations' had fallen for the first time in five years.

The drop is higher among those from more deprived backgrounds, widening the attainment gap between the rich and poor.

The figures show a rise in the number of school leavers going on to be "unemployed seeking work", "unemployed not seeking work" and "other".

In contrast to official government statistics that show more than 90 per cent of school leavers are in education or employment, the study found about 30 per cent of S4 leavers and nine per cent of S5/S6 leavers were unemployed or inactive a few years after leaving school.

The latest report shows significant differences based on social background were also found among S5 and S6 leavers one to three years after leaving school.

Edinburgh University researchers from the Applied Quantitative Methods Network (AQMeN) analysed job outcomes for 1600 school leavers, tracked the job market success for young people who left school in S4 and S5/6 and found that subject choice had little effect on job prospects.

Researchers found that the only subject choices that improved job prospects were studying History and Business at S4 and Maths at S5/S6.

Professor Cristina Iannelli, AQMeN co-director, said: “Despite policy efforts to tackle issues of poverty and exclusion among young people in Scotland, disadvantage is still being passed from one generation to the next and remains a pressing issue.

“The limited impact that subject choices have may be because of the general nature of curricula and the lack of standardised certifications in Scotland. This leaves employers unclear about a school leaver’s knowledge and skills, and school leavers more reliant upon family resources to help them gain a job.”

Peter Kelly, director of the Poverty Alliance, said: “While we are frequently reminded that work is the best route out of poverty, for too many young people finding high quality, well paid work remains a distant goal.

“We must take a holistic approach to young people growing up in poverty. Young people need somewhere to study at night when they come home from school, they need access to the internet to do their homework, and they need to be made aware of the opportunities that are available to them.

“Too many young people do not know where to go for advice on life after school, and with Job Centres focused on sanctions and reducing benefit entitlement rather than helping people into work, it is of no surprise that so many young people are not able to access employment.”