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Friday, July 31, 1998 Published at 15:41 GMT 16:41 UK


A second chance for the unqualified

Opportunities for young single mothers are to be improved

Teenage mothers and young people who have left school but are not in college or work are to become the next targets of the Social Exclusion Unit.

The Prime Minister, Tony Blair, is looking to cut the rate of teenage pregnancies in the UK and provide a second chance in education and training for those with no qualifications.

The unit, which aims to cut across government departmental boundaries, will consult with schools and local education authorities before making its conclusions.

Around 94,000 teenage girls give birth in Britain every year, including 9,000 aged under 16.

[ image: Tony Blair:
Tony Blair: "This government recognises that everyone has something to offer"
There are also 160,000 16 to 18-year-olds with no job, no training and no educational opportunities.

Mr Blair attacked previous governments for condemning teenage mothers.

They had ignored the damage that pregnancy at a young age can do to the education, employment and life chances of young women, he said.

"Many have no qualifications and rapidly become the statistics of social exclusion," said Mr Blair.

"Now is the time to act and I will be asking the unit to develop a constructive strategy as a matter of urgency."

The Social Exclusion Unit has previously produced a report on the problems of truancy and school exclusion.

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