Full-time education rate for 18-year-olds drops
The proportion of 18-year-olds in full-time education has fallen for the first time in England since 2001 but more are in work, official data suggests.
Snapshot data for the end of 2012 suggests the proportion of 18 year-olds in full-time education was down 4.3 percentage points on 2011.
There was also a slight fall in 16-18 year olds not in education, employment or training (NEET).
The skills Minister Matthew Hancock welcomed the lower NEET figures.
"I welcome the reduction in the proportion of 16- to 18-year-olds who are not in education, employment or training. We want to see these rate continue to improve and our new programme of traineeships will prepare young people for apprenticeships and sustainable jobs."
The figures, published by the Department for Education, are provisional estimates for 2012.
The proportion of 18 year-olds in full-time education fell from 50.3% in 2011 to 46% in 2012. However there was only a very slight increase, of 0.1 percentage points, in 18-year-olds who were NEET.
The reason for this was an increase in the employment rate for 18-year-olds who were not engaged in education or training, the statistics suggest.
There was also a slight increase, of 0.3 percentage points of 18-year-olds in part-time education.
The overall figures for 16- to 18-year-olds showed a related drop in the proportion in full-time education from 68.6% in 2011 to 67.2% in 2012.
The proportion of 16-18-year-olds who were NEET at the end of 2012 was 9.6%, a little lower than at the end of 2011 when it was 9.8%.
Tristram Hunt, Labour's shadow minister for young people accused the government of failing young people, having "damaged vocational education, undermined independent careers advice and removed the right to work experience".
"We need to ensure young people have the skills to equip them for work. Labour would take real action by ensuring all young people have access to high quality vocational courses, working to a gold standard Tech Bacc at 18, and that all pupils study English and Maths to age 18 alongside getting a quality work experience placement."
The figures follow last month's report by the National Institute of Adult Continuing Education which suggested a seven percentage point drop in the proportion of 17- to 24-year-olds taking part in learning.