We use UK longitudinal survey data to model young people’s transitions between employment, unemployment, education and a residual category made up of those neither in education nor economically active. Transitions from employment are shown to exhibit negative duration dependence regardless of destination, while transitions from unemployment only do so when the destination is employment. The results suggest the nature and length of males’ preceding spells affect transitions from unemployment to employment but that this is not the case for females. The combination of modelled effects is captured through simulations. These show that, for both males and females, a period neither in education nor economically active has more damaging long-term consequences for future employment than a period of unemployment.