Education & Family

Youth dropout blackspots revealed in a new report

Blackspots where high levels of youngsters are not in education, employment or training (Neet) have been revealed in a new report.

In Grimsby, Doncaster, Warrington and Wigan, nearly a quarter of 16 to 24-year-olds are Neet.

In a further nine cities in England and Wales, dropout rates for youngsters are about one in five.

The Work Foundation report blames a tough jobs market and cuts to youth services and education.

Its report for the Private Equity Foundation said: "In a difficult labour market, young people often find it harder to gain a foothold in work - and there is a real danger that youth unemployment could soon reach one million.

"Alongside this, public sector cuts mean youth services and 16-19 education face reductions of around 20%."

It added: "The combination of these two pressures means that unless urgent action is taken, the levels of young people who are Neet is likely to increase further still."

Skills Minister John Hayes said the number of young people not in education, employment or training had been too high for too long.

"We are acting to bring the numbers down. Government departments are working together to ensure that all those aged 16 to 24 are provided with the support they need to get the skills for work.

"Data indicates that apprenticeship starts for academic year 2010-11 have risen by more than 50% on last year's figures."

'Major ramifications'

The Work Foundation report used data from the 2009-10 Labour Force survey to identify Neet blackspots across Britain. Towns and cities in Northern Ireland were not included in the study.

Places with the highest Neet rates tend to be in the north of England. These include Blackpool, Rochdale and Oldham, where about 20% of 16- to 24-year-olds are Neet. Birmingham and Swansea also have Neet rates this high.

Although Swansea Council insists it has worked hard to reduce its levels of Neets.

Cities in the south of England have the lowest Neet rates. In Oxford, Plymouth and Cambridge, fewer than 10% of 16- to 24-year-olds are Neet. But Aberdeen and York also have rates this low.

In London, very high Neet rates greater than 20% persist in Barnet, Camden, Enfield, Hackney, Haringey, Islington and Westminster.

Report author Neil Lee said high Neet levels were one of the UK's most serious social problems.

"For a young person, being out of education, employment or training can have major ramifications, including long-term reductions in wages and increased chances of unemployment later in life, as well as social or psychological problems arising as a result of sustained unemployment."

Shaks Ghosh, chief executive of the Private Equity Foundation, said: "The fact that nearly a quarter of 16 to 24-year-olds are disengaged from education or employment in certain cities is not only shocking but very sad.

"Children from deprived areas urgently need the right support to continue in school, go to college or to get a job. To neglect these Neets risks a crisis in too many of our communities."

Brian Lightman, general secretary of the Association of Schools and Colleges said: "This very worrying report highlights the need for redoubled efforts to ensure that all young people who are at risk of becoming Neet have access to targeted support, including an engaging curriculum relevant to their needs.

"A key aspect of this support is access to high-quality advice and guidance so that young people are helped to find their way towards the career opportunities that do exist but are not always easy to find."

Neet rates were decreasing in England from the mid-1980s, as participation in education expanded and the economy grew.

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