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More than 10% of young people are out of work or education

In England, education or training must be maintained until the age of 18

Official statistics from the UK government from the last three months of 2017 indicate that over 10% of young people were not in work, training or education.

While this is a decrease on the 2016 figures, there are still concerns over young people in this category when it comes to future opportunities and work satisfaction overall.

The statistics of NEET young people

Individuals between the ages of 16 to 24 years that fall within the NEET category, that is, “not in education, employment or training”, amounted to a total of over 600,000 in England. This accounts for 11.1% of young people, which is a slight decline from 11.3% by late 2016, and a greater decline from the 14.9% recorded during the final months of 2012.

In England, education or training must be maintained until the age of 18. Despite this, there is growing concern about the lack of transferable skills young people are developing to take with them into life and employment.

Impetus-PEF works alongside charities to support the disadvantaged young population, and its chief executive, Andy Ratcliffe, suggests the statistics fail to pick up on the key issues that need to be investigated, such as which individuals are without employment or education and for how long, and what factors contribute to them obtaining and maintaining employment. 

The head of Barclays’ LifeSkills initiative, Kirstie Mackey, notes the positive, albeit relatively small, drop in those within the Neet category, but emphasises that it’s more important than ever that young people are able to develop skills for the future, given the changing nature of technology and working practices. There are also worries over fewer job opportunities in upcoming years, due to the changing face of high streets and the struggle of big and small businesses alike in the ever challenging and competitive economic climate.

There has also been a change in the gender gap, where historically more females have fallen within the NEET category. This levelled out during the latter part of 2016, and 2017 figures indicate more males are now NEET. This has generally been attributed to increasing numbers of males registered as disabled or long term sick, and a decrease in females looking after homes and families.

Steps to transform statistics

The age at which participation in training or education is mandatory was increased from 16 to 18 in 2013, and the September Guarantee was implemented to ensure an offer of such involvement to every 16 and 17 year old.

Government funding has been injected into schemes that deal with education for disadvantaged, disabled and learning-disabled young people, as well as into unemployment support for those seeking work via the JobCentre

Plus. There has also been a boost to assist young people to find and maintain employment, such as with the increase to the apprenticeship scheme, having Employer National Insurance Contributions removed for young individuals, amendments to technical education, and improvements to the availability of careers advice.

Increasingly at the local level, more charities and organisations are also developing advice and support services to young people who are NEET, to improve rates of sustained employment and skills needed for life and work after education and training.

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