Neet figures reach 1 million
By Vivienne Russell | 23 August 2012
Ministers have been urged to tackle youth unemployment after latest figures revealed that almost 1 million young people are not in education, employment or training.
Department for Education statistics, published yesterday, showed that at the end of the second quarter of the year, 968,000 16- to 24-year-olds were ‘Neets’. This compares with 949,000 in the previous quarter.
Overall, the number of Neets in this age bracket has remained broadly consistent over the past five years, peaking at almost 1.2 million in the third quarter of 2011.
Commenting on the figures, the Association of Teachers and Lecturers said 1 million young lives were now ‘outside of mainstream society’.
Martin Freedman, head of pay, conditions and pensions at the ATL, said: ‘Everywhere young people turn, doors are slammed in their faces. The government has made higher education so unaffordable that there are record falls in the number of university applicants and employers claim that young people are too expensive to take on, so their minimum wage has been frozen. And if young people don’t take meaningless unpaid jobs to “gain more work experience”, they risk losing their benefits.
‘All evidence shows that the longer young people are not working or training, the more difficult it is for them to turn their lives around. When is the government going to stop paying lip service to the problem and start to do something?’
The Institute for Public Policy Research said the figures showed that ‘no real progress’ was being made in reducing Neet numbers.
Research fellow Tess Lanning said: ‘The question we need to answer is why young people today find it so much harder to find stable and well-paid work than their counterparts in the 1970s, despite the fact that they are far better educated.’
She cited a lack of training and work opportunities and the paucity of high-quality careers advice and information, which left non-academic young people with little support.
‘Reducing high youth unemployment depends on returning the economy as a whole to growth and employment. Providing a job guarantee to all long-term unemployed young people, backed by an obligation to take up the work, could help to mitigate the “scarring” effect for the rising numbers of young people out of work for long periods of time or cycling between numerous low-paid jobs,’ Lanning said.
A DfE spokeswoman said the number of Neets was ‘still too high’, adding that the government was determined to tackle this.
She said: ‘We are spending a record £7.5bn on education and training for 16- to 19-year-olds, we have increased apprenticeship starts with growth across all ages, in all sectors and throughout the country. As part of the Youth Contract, we are spending £126m over the next three years on extra targeted support for the 55,000 16- and 17-year-olds most in need of education and training.’