The number of young people not working or studying is at its lowest level since records began, according to figures from the Office for National Statistics.
Britain’s Neets, 16- to 24-year-olds Not in Education, Employment or Training, fell by 118,000 in the year to March 2014. The drop brings Britain to its lowest Neet level since 2005.
The most dramatic decrease was in the first four months of this year, when 61,000 fewer young people were recorded in the category. Analysts believe this may be a reflection of improvements in the economy.
Despite the latest improvement, the overall number remains stubbornly close to one million. As of March this year there were 975,000 young adults - more than one in 10 - with nothing to do.
Just over half of these were looking for work and classified as unemployed. The remainder were either not looking for employment or unavailable for it.
Economists warned today that improvements in the labour market might not be enough to dramatically improve the situation for many of those seeking their first jobs, however. They argue that Britain needs to improve workplace-based training in order to come down to levels of youth inactivity comparable to other western European countries.
Tony Dolphin, chief economist at the think tank IPPR, said: “The latest fall in the number of young people who were not in education, employment or training is welcome, but at 975,000 it remains too high. The proportion of young people who are Neet is more than twice as high in the UK as in the European countries will the lowest rates.”
In the Netherlands just 4.3 per cent of 15- to 24-year-olds were recorded as Neets last year, and in Germany the rate was 7.1 per cent. In Britain during the same period it was 14 per cent.
Skills and Enterprise Minister Matthew Hancock said: “I am delighted to see that the number of young people not in education, employment or training is at its lowest level since 2005.
“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.”