The number of unemployed young people in Hong Kong dropped by 3,700 in the past quarter. But social workers warn there is no room for complacency, with the group's unemployment rate still 32.5 per cent. Permanent Secretary for Economic Development and Labour Matthew Cheung Kin-chung said yesterday the number of unemployed aged between 15 and 19 had fallen from a record high of 26,400 between July and September to 22,700 between August and October. There are about 90,000 workers in this age group. The general jobless rate is 8 per cent. Mr Cheung attributed the fall to the improving overall economic situation but said the jobless rate remained high. 'Young people are valuable to the community as they will be our future masters. However, their employment opportunities may be affected by the doubt cast by some employers on their work abilities as these employers think that youngsters are inexperienced and immature,' he said at a youth employment training programme. Daniel Shek Tan-lei, professor of social work at Chinese University and a former member of the Commission on Youth, said although the figures had dropped from their highest point, youth unemployment was still a major concern. 'This figure, like the overall employment figures, falls a bit after the third quarter because it is seasonal,' he said. Professor Shek said youth unemployment had been higher than the general jobless figures since the mid-1990s. 'It's a structural problem,' he said. 'Having those employment training programmes will only have a short-term effect. Many youngsters are disengaged or 'double unengaged' [with no job or schooling]. How to help these teenagers has become a major challenge to the government.' Gary Tang Leung-shun, a job adviser at the Hong Kong Federation of Youth Groups, said the government's pre-employment training programme could help teenagers.