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Number of NEETs falls in all 9 regions

29/05/2014 Joanna
The government has announced that the number of young people not in education, employment or training (NEET) is falling in all nine regions of the UK.

News of the fall follows an announcement made last week that the number of NEETs has dropped to its lowest level since 2005.

Data collected by local authorities reveals the sharpest fall was registered in London, where levels declined by 19 per cent.

The second-highest drop was recorded in the north-west, where numbers were down by 12 per cent. Nine per cent falls occurred in the north-east and east of England, while smaller declines occurred in the south-east (seven per cent) and the south-west (five per cent).

According to the government, the lower number of NEETs constitutes proof that it's education reforms are beginning to bear fruit.

It has introduced a number of initiatives designed to ensure young people are able to find work. Introducing a more rigorous curriculum is one such measure, as is the scrapping of vocational courses it claims do not provide the skills required by employers.

The government has also brought in a £30 million package of youth engagement and fair chance funds designed to improve the prospects of up to 20,000 vulnerable young people

Skills and education minister Matthew Hancock commented: "The figures released today show the progress being made to ensure that all young people are equipped with the skills that allow them to begin productive and prosperous careers.

"I am particularly pleased to see that the proportion of 16 to 18-year-olds who are NEET, is at the lowest level since records began.

"This is further evidence that our long-term economic plan is securing young people's future."

News that the number of NEETs is falling in all parts of the country will come as particularly welcome news, as some observers greeted last week's announcement on NEETs with a degree of scepticism.

Tony Dolphin, chief economist at the think tank Institute for Public Policy Research, welcomed the drop in the number of NEETs but claimed the figure remains too high. He pointed out that it is still double the number in the European countries which have the lowest rates.

The Work Foundation also welcomed the news but warned against complacency among policymakers. Lizzie Crowley, head of youth unemployment programmes at the foundation, said many people who become NEET often remain so for more than a year and this can have an adverse impact on their future earning potential.

She said the government "needs to do more for these young people currently living in the UK NEET blackspot areas".

In some parts of the country, almost a quarter of young people are classified as NEET. In Grimsby, 27 per cent are NEET, while in Bradford the figure is 25 per cent. Similar figures have been recorded for many other urban areas in Yorkshire and other parts of the north of England.

Critics may conclude that the regional declines measured in the recent statistics mask these more specific inequalities.

The government has made reforms to improve the quality of vocational training. In January, Mr Hancock said every young person would be in education or training from 2015. 

He pledged to create an "elite" vocational system in which there would be no strict divide between the vocational and the academic.

Mr Hancock announced the creation of an £18 million Manufacturing Training Centre in Coventry, which will develop cutting-edge engineering skills. It will also offer international placements with the best engineering firms.

Despite the economic growth, some businesses have reported a mismatch between the skills they require to fill their vacancies and those on offer by prospective candidates.

Earlier in the year, the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) called for better careers education to ensure young people meet the requirements of the modern jobs market.

It also said qualifications should be clear and consistent, allowing employers to appraise an applicant's abilities accurately.

Nora Senior, president of the BCC, said: "Government, schools, colleges and employers must all work together in the coming months and years to ensure that the UK has a workforce that is 'fit for purpose'."

The government will greet the news of the recent nationwide fall in NEETs as proof that progress is being made in this area.

Posted by Alan DouglasADNFCR-2164-ID-801724205-ADNFCR
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