Magazine article Public Finance

Teenage Jobless Rate Reflects Wider Deprivation

Magazine article Public Finance

Teenage Jobless Rate Reflects Wider Deprivation

Article excerpt

Almost a quarter of English local authorities are blighted with a teenage unemployment rate more than twice the national adult average, government figures have revealed.

The figures - published last week by education minister Jim Knight - show that in some towns and cities in the West Midlands and North over 15% of 16 to 18-year-olds are 'not in employment, education or training' (Neet). In a third of authorities, the proportion of such teenagers has increased over the past two years.

'Some of these figures are absolutely appalling and they will be even worse in smaller pockets of extreme deprivation in some of these areas,' Paul Holmes, LibDem MP for Chesterfield and a member of the Commons education select committee, told Public Finance.

He said the scale of the problem in areas such as Stoke, Sandwell, Liverpool and Middlesbrough proved that government strategies to address social and economic exclusion among the 16-18 age group had failed.

"The early targets on the New Deal concentrated on the easy ones - the young people coming out of school with qualifications,' Holmes told PF. "With the 16 to 18-year-olds in the Neet group, it's the basic education policy that is failing them. But the government rejected [the] Tomlinson [report], which would have addressed that, because they were too scared that the Tory tabloids would run campaigns against them.'

Publication of the figures coincided with the launch of a consultation into increasing compulsory education to 18. Education Secretary Alan Johnson said: "This is not about forcing young people to stay in the classroom...

'Staying on in education or training to 18... could mean training whilst in a job.'

John Brennan, chief executive of the Association of Colleges, said that this was a tacit recognition that past policies had not worked. "The drive of recent years to tackle the problem of young people in the Neet category through the Connexions service has not wholly succeeded,' he said.

Approximately 20% of 16-year-olds in the Neet group have no GCSEs. A further 40% have no C grade or above in GCSEs - the standard often demanded by employers.

The new figures provide snapshots on the number and percentage of 16, 17 and 18-year-olds in the Neet category in each English local authority for November 2005 and for November 2006. …

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