Education lure for youth

15 Jul 99
The government is to offer financial incentives to keep 16 to 18-year-olds in education and training as part of a package to stem 'a lost generation' of youngsters.

16 July 1999

A report by Downing Street's Social Exclusion Unit found that at any one time 160,000 16 to 18-year-olds are not in education, training or work. The unit says that these teenagers are more likely to fall into a downward spiral of drugs and crime.

Prime Minister Tony Blair said action was needed to prevent such 'wasted and frustrating' years. 'We need a better support service to get young people through their teenage years and make the most of learning,' he said. 'Non-participation at this time in their lives has a dire effect on young people's future life prospects.'

Education Secretary David Blunkett said: 'Dropping out condemns too many young people to a lifetime of misery and underachievement.'

The report proposes a series of financial measures to keep teenagers in education and to lure those without qualifications back in. Education Maintenance Allowances will be piloted and could be available to all low-income youngsters without qualifications. These would also cover transport to college and 'other costs'. Single parents, the homeless and the disabled would qualify for as yet unspecified special financial help.

Blunkett also wants to set a new goal for all 19-year-olds – to 'graduate' with at least five GCSEs or the vocational equivalent.

More detail is also given on the new Youth Support Service, announced in the white paper, Learning to Succeed, which will provide a wide range of individual tailored support to 13 to 19-year-olds.

A Local Government Association spokesman said the service 'risks being yet another locally unaccountable tier of government if it is not built on the current youth services provided by local councils'.

The government is to consult on the key proposals in the report but is planning to implement the changes from 2000.


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