By Max Clarke

Quarterly employment figures for the final three months of 2010, published today by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), show overall employment dropped by 68,000 to 29.12 million, although numbers in full time work rose for both men and women to reach 18.23 million.

1.46 million were on jobseekers allowance, up 2,400, and unemployment rose to 7.9%, or 2.49 million. For men the figure fell 5,400, down to 1.01 million while the number of female jobseekers allowance claimers grew by 7,800 to just under 450,000- for the first time since 1996.

Liz Field, CEO of the Financial Skills Partnership, said, “It is worrying to see unemployment among women rising, and it is absolutely vital to attract, retain and develop women and young people in the financial services sector. Having a diverse workforce is integral to the success of the sector.”

For 16-24 year olds, unemployment increased by 1.5 percent to exceed 20%, or 965,000- the highest figure since records began.

According to Field, “Quality vocational training, such as apprenticeships, must be made available for the rising youth unemployment and we believe, to graduates in the job market. The concerning figures should encourage employer-hosted programmes which could boost the skills of young talent. Financial services apprenticeships would help maintain the UK’s place in the global economy.”

Annual growth in total pay for the three months to December was 1.8, while for the three months to November the figure was 2.1- with much