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Fall in the number of young UK NEETs

While the news from the ONS is welcome, teachers remain concerned about pupils leaving school with insufficient employability skills

Posted by Julian Owen | November 29, 2018 | School life

The number of young people not in education, employment or training (NEETs) in the UK is falling, according to newly released data from the Office for National Statistics.

The figures show that:

 - There are 760,000 NEETS aged 16 to 24 in the UK; this number decreased by 23,000 from April to June 2018 and was down 29,000 when compared with July to September 2017

 - The percentage of all young people in the UK who were NEET was 10.9%; the proportion was down 0.3 percentage points from April to June 2018 and down 0.3 percentage points from July to September 2017

While this is good news, a recent Barclays survey of nearly 500 teachers found that concerns remain about pupils leaving school with insufficient employability skills.

The report, 'How employable is the UK?', states that:

 - Just 6% of teachers believe that their students leave education with the skills they need for employment (proactivity, adaptability, leadership, creativity, resilience, communication and problem solving)

 - Almost a quarter of teachers (22%) don’t think their institution is effective in developing employability skills for pupils

 - The vast majority (79%) of UK employers rate employability skills as important for the success of their business in the next 10 years

Kirstie Mackey, Director of LifeSkills at Barclays, said: “The latest NEET figures are encouraging, yet far too many young people are leaving education without a clear idea of what to expect from - or how to cope with - the ever-changing world of work. Not only does this prevent those individuals from achieving their potential, it’s also to the detriment of the wider UK economy to have a future workforce that isn’t prepared for the reality of working life.

“We need a curriculum that helps bridge the gap between education and the workplace, making it clear what businesses expect from their employees and offering work experience and practical sessions that help pupils to develop these crucial employability skills.”

Alan Woods, CEO of the Vocational Training Charitable Trust, said: “It is absolutely imperative that all of us involved in the education and training of  young people  tackle youth unemployment. It simply isn’t good enough that more than one in ten young people are classified today as not in education, employment or training. With a growing economy and falling unemployment, we cannot forget that there are 760,000 young people still out of a job or not in the education and training system. 

We know that vocational and technical  education, and specifically apprenticeships, as well as the many other advantages they bring to all learners, can also bridge that gap for young people who fall off the system and act as a lifeline to bring them back in. We need a properly funded, holistic plan that upskills all of the UK’s potential workforce; that challenges schools, colleges, private training providers and awarding bodies to remain inclusive for all learners - especially those with difficult circumstances - and champions young people into a career choice of their own which leads to a job.”

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