Data from between April and June revealed there are 75,000 fewer 16-24 year-old NEETS than there were in 2010. Since 2011, overall NEET rates have “consistently fallen” for the April to June period – with the government claiming that the creation of 2.3m apprenticeships in the last term of parliament is heavily responsible.
The amount of 16-18 year-old NEET individuals was down by 0.6 per cent to 7.5 per cent (11,000 people), while 16-24 year-olds were down 0.4 per cent to 13.1 per cent (23,000).
Skills minister Nick Boles said: “While the proportion of young people NEET is at its lowest for this time of the year since 2004, we will not stop there.
“Our focus remains firmly on equipping all young people with the skills they need – not least through our pledge to deliver three million new apprenticeships in this parliament.”
In a statement, the government also explained what reforms it had brought in since 2010, when the coalition government came into power, to “engage young people” over the age of 16. It has raised the age of participation in education or training to 18, improved the quality of vocation education, ensured minimum standards for apprenticeships and put in place legal protection, introduced degree-level apprenticeships and created traineeships to help young people into apprenticeships and other routes.
Despite the progress, Kirstie Donnelly, UK MD of City & Guilds, had few words of warning. “It’s positive to see a fall in NEET numbers across all age groups, and I imagine many will cheer these figures. But the reality is that more than 15 per cent of young people are still out of work and not in education or training,” she said.
“The media will rightly celebrate the achievements of young people in their GCSEs, and for many people, today marks a first step towards achieving the career they want. Yet at the same time, scores of teenagers remain in danger of falling through the cracks. At the heart of this is a consistent failure to prepare young people for the workplace of the future and train them for the jobs that actually exist in their areas. We need to get far better at using labour market information and up-to-date data on skills gaps to shape careers advice, in order to make the term ‘NEET’ a thing of the past.”
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The new figures reportedly show the proportion of 16-17 year-olds participating in education or training reached its highest level since consistent data began, having risen 10.9 percentage points since 2000.
NEET data comes a week after the UK experienced its second successive rise in unemployment. Those out of work rose to 5.6 per cent in the three months to June, up from 5.5 per cent in the first quarter of 2015.
Speaking then, David Freeman, a statistician at the ONS, said: “This is now the second consecutive time we’ve reported fewer people in work on the quarter. While it’s still too early to conclude that the jobs market is levelling off, these figures certainly strengthen that possibility. Growth in pay, however, remains solid.”
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