Retailers provided more than 40% of all new jobs in the UK among 16 to 21 year-olds over the last 12 months, figures from the British Retail Consortium (BRC) reveal.

More than 13,500 jobs for new starters under the age of 21 were created by retailers over the last year.

At a time when young people are struggling to enter the jobs market, retail now accounts for 42% of all jobs taken by 16 to 17 year-olds.

The figures follow a survey by the BRC of its members, which account for more than one million jobs UK-wide.

BRC director-general Stephen Robertson said: “We’ve produced clear and detailed evidence that retail is one of the sectors most likely to give young people the job breaks they need.

“The August riots were blamed by some on growing frustration among that generation. School and college leavers are facing an incredibly tough time getting into work. Retail found itself in the frontline of the attacks, ironic when it’s actually in the frontline of the solution.”

The retail body has released the figures ahead of a debate it is hosting at the Liberal Democrat conference at the ICC in Birmingham today (Tuesday).

The session will be chaired by Heart FM breakfast show presenter Ed James and will include panel members BRC director of public affairs Jane Bevis and Ed Davey MP, Minister for Employment Relations and Consumer Affairs.

Entitled ‘Big Retail, Big Values’ it is aimed at highlighting the role of the retail industry in the wider economy.