Education & Family

Fall in number of 'Neet' youths, official figures show

youth
Image caption Youngsters who leave school with no qualifications are most at risk of dropping out of education and work

The proportion of 18-24-year-olds in England who are not in school, college or work has fallen, figures from the Department for Education indicate.

In total, 16.3% were classed as Neet - not in education, employment or training - in the second quarter of this year.

This is down from 17.6% in the same quarter of last year.

A total of 776,000 18-24-year-olds were classed as Neet in the first quarter of 2010, down from 831,000 last year.

Among 16-24-year-olds, 874,000 (14.5%) were classified as Neet.

The figures also show youngsters who leave school with no qualifications are the most at risk of dropping out of education and work.

More than a third (36.1%) of young people without qualifications were considered Neet in the second quarter of this year, up from 34.6% in the first quarter of 2008.

The statistics come as young people face heavy pressure on jobs and education because of the recession and a squeeze on university places.

As many as 170,000 would-be students are estimated to miss out on a degree place this year, as universities face increasing demand.

A spokesman for the DfE said: "Despite the welcome fall in the number of young people who are not in education, employment or training (Neet), the overall numbers are still too high.

"This government is committed to narrowing the gap between the richest and poorest and we are working to give all young people, regardless of their background, the best opportunities to progress.

"We are committed to the continued expansion of the apprenticeships programme and, by summer 2011, the work programme will offer the personalised support that job seekers require, regardless of their circumstances."

Qualified youngsters

On Tuesday, a report by the Institute for Public Policy Research and the Private Equity Foundation said the risk of a teenager with A-levels becoming Neet had risen by 40% since the start of the recession.

Just over 9% of those with Level 3 qualifications (which includes A-levels) were classified as Neet in the second quarter of 2010, up from 6.4% in the first quarter of 2008.

The findings, which were published days before A-level results are released, suggested recent graduates had seen the fastest increase in the numbers becoming Neet, with the risk growing by 50% since 2008.

But the report acknowledged young people with no qualifications remained "far more vulnerable" than their more highly qualified peers.

It said: "The percentage of young people with no qualifications (36.1%) who are Neet has hardly changed since the recession started, suggesting a long-term problem whose causes are not connected to the recent economic upheaval."

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