New record high for NEETs in 2011 – but why?

education, jobs, young people, training and skills

Author(s):  Richard Darlington
Published date:  24 Feb 2012
Source:  Left Foot Forward

There are now a total of 958,000 young people (aged 16-24) who are NEET, up 19,000 over the last year and a record high of 15.9 per cent for a ‘fourth quarter’

The latest figures from the Department for Education on the number of young people not in education, employment or training (NEET) show that 2011 was the worst year since records began.

Because the figures are not seasonably adjusted, the figure always peaks in quarter three and falls again in quarter four. But taking the average level over the calendar year shows that was over one million NEETs in during 2011 for the first ever time.

At the start of this week, deputy prime minister Nick Clegg announced plans to help 55,000 NEETs aged 16-17 years old with a new £126 million scheme. It’s a welcome move but in the context of the numbers of young people not in work or training, it looks like a drop in the ocean.

Today’s numbers show the biggest annual percentage increase in the number of NEETs aged 16-17 in a fourth quarter since records began, up 16.4 per cent over the last year. There is also a record rise in NEETs aged 16-18, up 16,000 (9.9 per cent) over the last year.

The worse rises are in the East Midlands (up 26 per cent, 17,000 young people), the North West (up 18,000, a rise of 13 per cent) and Yorkshire & Humberside (up 17,000, a rise of 15 per cent).

Last autumn, the government announced plans for a new ‘youth contract’ including 160,000 job subsidies and an extra 20,000 apprenticeships.

It was another welcome measure but it is still a policy yet to be implemented. Assuming there is no slippage, the youth contract will come on stream in April, more than a year after the abolition of the ‘future jobs fund’ and the education maintenance allowance (EMA).

A recent report from children’s charity Barnardos on the replacement to the EMA highlighted its inadequacy. Today’s figures do likewise.

When I blogged on this issue yesterday, I was contacted Mega Mentors, who by told me that the work they do with young people to get NEETs into work and training is threatened because their funding is being cut. I suspect they are not alone.

Resources are vital to tackling NEETs, as Barry Sherman’s education select committee showed in their excellent report at the end of the last Parliamentary session. But today’s figures, as Graph 1 illustrates, show a record breaking reverse, something I take no pleasure in pointing out that I predicted last summer.

Being NEET is no fun at all. The Prince’s Trust show that young people who are NEETs are almost twice as likely as other young people to lack a sense of belonging in life. More than a third of NEETs (37 per cent) lack a sense of identity, and this figure rises to nearly half (47 per cent) for those out of work  year or longer.

More than a third of unemployed young people (34 per cent) feel isolated all or most of the time, increasing to 45 per cent for those who have been out of work for a year or longer. Almost half of young people not in work (48 per cent) claim that unemployment has caused problems including self-harm, insomnia, self-loathing and panic attacks.

Young people are twice as likely to self-harm or suffer panic attacks when they have been unemployed for a year.

IPPR research shows that apprenticeships – and vocational education more generally – play a key role in supporting young people’s transitions into work in many northern European countries where rates of youth unemployment in these countries are much lower than in Britain.

They say “you’re only young once” and it’s true. I now realise how lucky I was to be a teenager in the late nineties. Those of you in your teenage years in 2011 have my profound sympathy because it is not you who have failed, but Britain that has failed you.

 
 

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Richard Darlington, Head of News