Nearly a million young people are not in school, work or training


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The Independent Online

The number of young people not in school, work or training has edged closer to a million, official figures revealed today.

Over 950,000 people aged between 16 to 24 in England is now considered "Neet" (not in education, employment or training), according to data published by the Department for Education (DfE).

Today's statistics showed that 954,000 young people were classed as Neet in the first three months of the year, compared to 925,000 in the same quarter a year ago.

The figure was a record high for the first quarter of a year.

The new figure of 954,000 is 143,000 higher than in the first three months of 2008.

A Government spokesman said: "The number of young people not in education, employment or training has been too high for too long. We are driving up standards right across the schools system to bring the numbers down.

"We are investing almost £1 billion in the Youth Contract to support 16-24-year-olds into education, training and work. We are creating the biggest apprenticeships programme our country has ever seen and have launched the National Careers Service to provide expert advice.

"We are also overhauling vocational education, so all employers can be confident about the skills of our young people and the rigour of our qualifications."

The figures also show that the numbers of 16-18-year-olds alone who are considered Neet are rising again.

In total, 183,000 were out of education and work in the first quarter of this year, compared to 159,000 for the same period in 2011.

This is a drop from 2009 when it stood at 220,000 - a high for the first quarter of the year.

Martin Freedman, of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL), said the figures were almost certainly an underestimate, adding: "We think the real figure is closer to one and a quarter million.

"The Government has contributed to young people's misery by stopping the education maintenance allowance and Future Jobs Fund and thus cutting the lifeline to those who might have been in education or training.

"It is all very well and good for the Government to be encouraging companies to set up apprenticeship schemes right, left and centre, but if there aren't any jobs for young people to go into afterwards, they will be deeply frustrated and risk falling into a vicious cycle of unemployment."