New government data shows that the number of young people aged 16-18 years old and not in education, employment or training is the lowest for 20 years. These reductions are really welcome and hopefully it’s a trend that will continue.
As always my concern remains those young people, whatever their age, who continue to be distant from the labour market and/or disengaged from learning who I suspect are also young people dealing with multiple disadvantages.
Looking closely at the myriad of tables attached to the press release, there is some evidence to suggest there remains a growing number of young people sliding between the gaps. Whilst healthy decreases in 16 and 17 year olds Neets are being observed, young people aged 18 who are not in any education or training and are classed as economically inactive are increasing from 4.7% to 5.6%. Delving deeper still we see that this increase seems to be in young men – the rate increased from 3.3% to 5.7% for males (11,400 to 19,100) between the end of 2011 and 2013.
Obviously, until further analysis is done we can’t be sure about the reasons behind this increase. Yet my eagle eyed policy colleague tells me that in the Labour Force Survey, reasons for those reporting to be economically inactive include ‘discouraged’ – disillusioned to the point of giving up on even trying to find a job.
I am not convinced that we have yet put in place the coherent and comprehensive packages of support these young people need to achieve their potential. We don’t have time for complacency or electioneering on this issue – what we need is political leadership. Only by joining up across government and across funding streams will we be able to create the climate where all young people are able to reach their full potential.