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Youth Unemployment: Numbers Of 'Neets' Rise At Record Rate

The Huffington Post, 25 November 2011 - The number of young people in the UK not in education, employment or training (Neet) has risen at a record rate over the past year, figures have shown.

Almost one in five 16-24-year olds are out of school and unemployed, the Department for Education (DfE) said on Thursday, with the total rising to 1,163,000 - an increase of 137,000 over last year's numbers.

Youth unemployment has come into sharp focus in recent months as rates spiral to record levels against the backdrop of slow economic growth.

The government has put an apprenticeship drive at the forefront of its response to the trend, and more announcements are expected before the weekend, but with the success of that programme in question, pressure is building on the chancellor to unveil new measures in next week's autumn statement.

“It’s now imperative that the government acts to tackle youth unemployment," Nick Pearce, director of the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR), said.

"If reports are true, action to be announced tomorrow to support employers to hire more young people and to expand youth apprenticeships are welcome. But the government should ensure that all young people who have been out of work for more than a year are guaranteed a job at the minimum wage to ensure they do not lose touch with the jobs market.”

Research by IPPR released earlier in November showed that the apprenticeship system is failing to deliver for 16-24 year olds, with many schemes taking on older workers or being used to train existing staff. In total, 40% of all apprenticeships went to over-25s, the research showed. Out of the new programmes created last year, only 37,000 out of a total of 126,000 went to 16-24-year olds.

The Confederation of British Industries (CBI) has called for a £1,500 credit to be given to companies that give jobs to unemployed 16-24-year olds, and for the minimum wage youth rate to be frozen.

“It is alarming that there are so many 16 to 24-year-olds not in education, employment, or training, and today’s figures show the vast scale of the problem we need to overcome to avoid a lost generation of young people," the CBI's policy director, Katja Hall, said.

"We urgently need the Government to come up with short-term measures to spur businesses growth and get firms taking on more young people. Looking further ahead, the Government must do more to address the underlying problems that lead to NEETs in the first place, such as focusing on helping workless communities and embedding employability skills in school teaching.”

Research shows that young people who fall out of the education system and fail to get into long-term employment early in their working lives face a difficult future of lower wages, fragile job security and below average health and wellbeing.

With a combination of cuts to education and youth services, a weak economy and longer term trends towards de-industrialisation, some areas of the UK now face persistent high levels of Neets, according to the Work Foundation, which published a report this month showing that inner cities and post-industrial towns are experiencing particularly acute problems.

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