Headlines: July 7th, 2010

The Audit Commission says an annual Government survey of so-called NEETs – young people who are not in education, employment or training – has underestimated the scale of the problem. The Commission believes a new approach could make scarce resources work harder to help the young people and is calling on councils to do more to meet their needs.

Since 1990 the survey has shown that between 9 and 10 per cent of 16 to 18 year olds fall into the category. Today’s study by the Commission of the financial, personal and social cost of NEETs finds that as many as a quarter may be involved.

‘Against the Odds – Re-engaging young people in education, employment or training’ is based on analysis of the records of 24,000 young people in ten areas. It shows that the number affected varies widely across the country. The research shows about 10 per cent of the study groups were out of education, employment or training for six months or more. That represents more than 85,000 young people nationally.

The Audit Commission Chairman, Michael O’Higgins said that while 8.67 billion pounds was set aside for 16-19 learning and support, most of it rarely reached the more disadvantaged teens who needed more intensive support. Mapping where they were often mirrored Britain’s most deprived places but some areas of industrial decline had bucked the trend.

The report calls for local councils to get to grips with the needs of their local teens and says funding should be better targeted. Michael O’Higgins said: “’Local knowledge and targeted action offer the best chance of making a lasting difference to these young lives, and of saving the country billions of pounds in welfare support, lost taxes and income.”