The number of young people not in education, employment or training (NEET) in the UK has risen by almost 30,000 over the last three months, new figures show today (22 Aug). 

The Local Government Association, which represents councils across England and Wales, said councils can get more young people into work, education and training and transform the lives of thousands more young people if they are given greater powers over the national skills and employment system.

Figures published today show there are 792,000 NEETs in the UK - up 28,000 in the last quarter.

Despite limited powers, councils are ambitious for their young people. They have already shown that they can improve people’s lives, help young people make career choices that are right for them, support local business and boost the national economy.

Examples include:

  • In Medway NEETs fell by almost a fifth (17.5 per cent) in December 2018 to February 2019, compared to the same period in 2017/2018. Medway Council has a specialist team which provides 1-2-1 support for young people who are NEET, youth offenders or those with special educational needs. They work closely with education and training providers to support young people into jobs.
  • Blackpool Council works closely with local further education colleges and sixth forms to reach young people who are NEET. They offer a pre-apprenticeship programme and have commissioned a local provider who offers key employment support, and four week ‘personal development’ opportunities to develop employability skills. 
  • Southwark Council offers a wide range of services to young people, including Southwark Choices, which works with more than 80 16-18 year olds who are NEET. The council has engaged with over 900 young people throughout the last year, offering impartial information, advice and guidance, through a twice weekly drop-in service. The council also supports around 50 year 11 young people identified as at risk of becoming NEET. These children are identified through joint work with schools, and information sharing across council services. In addition to this, it delivers talks on post-16 options at a number of schools. All NEET or at risk of NEET young people have a named advisor to support them into education and training.  

Council leaders say devolved powers and funding are necessary to get more young people and disadvantaged jobseekers into education, employment or training.  

This means giving councils and local partners the power to deliver their own apprenticeship offer, local careers advice and guidance, as well as more support for schools to assist with post-16 pathways.

With councils facing a funding gap of more than £5 billion next year, the LGA said the Government should use next month’s Spending Round to also devolve sufficient funding to co-ordinate and commission support for all young people, including those at risk of, or who are not in education, employment or training.

This will allow councils to deliver skills provision locally and ensure every young person can realise their full potential, the needs of employers are met and economic growth boosted.

Chairman of the LGA’s People and Places Board, Cllr Mark Hawthorne, said:

“With more than 790,000 young people not in education, employment or training it is vital that more young people have the opportunities to increase their skills and retrain, so we can drive up productivity and start to close local skills gaps. 

“Behind every number is a young person failing to realise their full potential. 

“By devolving careers advice and post-16 skills budgets and powers to local areas, councils can work with schools, colleges and employers to improve provision for young people so that they can get on in life.”

Kirstie Mackey100x100Kirstie Mackey, Head of LifeSkills created with Barclays, said:

“It’s disappointing to see a rise in the number of young people in the UK who are not in any kind of education, employment or training. We know from working with young people across the UK how beneficial work experience and part-time jobs can be for future success, and so it is vital that the next generation are given the opportunity to gain a range of transferable skills alongside their studies or training.

“Our own research has shown that young people are finding innovative and entrepreneurial new routes – such as setting up online businesses – to boost their experience, skills development and earnings. These young people are to be encouraged; however, businesses, educators and Government cannot be complacent and ensure all young people can find meaningful work experience to prepare them for their future careers.”

The LGA has put together a series of Skills Taskforce roundtables designed to bring together industry experts and sector representatives with an interest in making our skills and employment system as effective as possible. 

In July 2019 at our Annual Conference, the LGA relaunched Work Local – an ambitious but practical vision for devolved and integrated employment and skills provision.

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