Page last updated at 17:08 GMT, Thursday, 13 August 2009 18:08 UK

England youth drop-out rate rises

By Alison Smith
BBC News education reporter

Some areas have seen larger rises in inactive young people

The number of young people in England not in employment or training has risen to 935,000, with rates rising most quickly in the West Midlands.

The rate rose to 16% in the first quarter of this year from a roughly stable level of 14% since 2001.

UK unemployment figures released on Wednesday showed nearly one in five young people capable of finding work was jobless.

Ministers said they were creating many more jobs for young people.

In a parliamentary answer, the Tories spokesman for universities and skills, David Willetts, was told that 935,000 young people in England were now classed as not being in education, employment or training (Neet) during the first quarter of this year.

The proportion of young people in England who are Neet had remained roughly stable between 2001 and 2008 - at 14%, with an increase to 16% in the first quarter of this year.

But there are regional variations - and large rises in numbers of Neets in some areas.

In 2001 there were 45,000 inactive young people and today there are 78,000.

In the South East there were 76,000 in 2001. The figure has jumped to 130,000 in 2009.

The highest proportion of Neets is found in the West Midlands where one in five young people has no occupation.

But the North West has the highest number of Neets - at 156,000.


According to data from the Office for National Statistics, the unemployment rate among 16-24 year olds across the UK has risen to 19.1% of the economically active people in this age group - meaning about 928,000 people in that age range are classed as unemployed.

Statistics published yesterday showed the overall UK unemployment rate has risen to 7.8%.

Government figures from 2008 provided for each local authority in England show that the London borough of Hackney has the highest proportion of inactive young people - at 29%.

Unemployed versus 'Neet'
Unemployment rate among 16-24 year olds is 12.6%
But rate of unemployment among those 'economically active' 16-24 year olds is 19.1%, so almost one in five
The 'economically active' category would exclude people not seeking work or available to start work
928,000 16-24 year olds in the UK are classed as unemployed
'Neet' means not in employment, education or training
935,000 16-24 year olds in England alone are in this group

Lowest levels are in Somerset, south Gloucestershire and the London Borough of Merton - where 6% are Neet.

Mr Willetts said: "On top of Wednesday's terrible unemployment figures, today we discover there have been increases in the number of Neets in every region.

"That one in five young people is Neet in some parts of the country is a damning indictment of Labour's time in office.

"Even during the boom years, the number of Neets was rising, despite endless promises from Labour that they would help young people.

"We have called on ministers to provide more apprenticeships for young people and to establish a dedicated fund for young people disengaged from education and employment. Young people need change at the earliest opportunity."

Work and Pensions Minister Angela Eagle responded: "We know that young people can be particularly scarred by the economic slowdown, which is why we are determined to provide extra help and support so we don't abandon an entire generation as the Tories did.

"We are investing £5bn to help those who have lost their jobs, which includes 47,000 new jobs from the Future Jobs Fund, and we are investing £140m to provide 35,000 additional apprenticeship places over the next year.

"Our campaign, Backing Young Britain, will bring business and government together to create thousands of new opportunities for young people."

Further education

Meanwhile, a survey of people who completed further education courses suggests they feel the courses provided long-lasting benefits.

The study for the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills questioned 4,837 students from a group of 10,000 who were previously interviewed in 2007 about the outcomes of their courses.

The researchers compared their answers with those given in 2007.

Those interviewed were aged between 20 and 55 and finished a further education course in 2005-06.

The researchers found a significant jump in those in paid employment among the 4,837 people interviewed in both the 2007 and 2008 studies.

Four in five of those in work said they now had a permanent job.

Among the former students most recently questioned, 53% were now in work or further learning - up from 44% the previous year.

Only 7% reported feeling that their course had given them no long-lasting benefits in any area.

Those aged over 55 were more likely to report having improved their use of information technology, and women were more likely to say the course had increased their confidence.

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