NEET numbers fall to UK record low

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More young people are either working or learning across the UK

Businesses across the UK and government officials should be patting themselves on the back this week, as new data has shown considerable headway has been made in tackling the number of young people that are classed as NEET - not in education, employment or training - during the last year.

According to new figures released jointly by the Department for Education and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), the percentage of 16 to 18-year-olds up and down the UK that can now be classed as NEET stands at just 6.6 per cent - down annually by 0.4 per cent - and is at its lowest level since records began in 2000.

Meanwhile, for 16 to 24-year-olds, an even greater improvement of 1.5 per cent was witnessed in the last 12 months, with the NEET rate for this age group is now down to 11.9 per cent.

What's more, this represents an annual decline of more than 100,000 young people - meaning the future looks far brighter for opportunities for training and employment for this group than it did at the same time last year.

Furthermore, the number of young people claiming work-related benefits in the UK is now at its lowest level since the mid-1970s.

Responding to these positive results, skills minister Nick Boles said: "We are committed to giving every young person, whatever their background, the chance to earn a good living or learn new skills - this is vital not just for the individual but for the whole country.

"The continued fall in young people not in education, employment or training - leading to today's record low level - shows that we are delivering on this commitment.

"There is no room for complacency, though, and through our plans to deliver three million new apprenticeships by 2020 and our qualification reforms, we are determined to build on these excellent results."

Overall, the government has put in place a range of measures aimed at helping to encourage more young people to either carry on with their studies or to enter the worlds of work and training when they leave school.

Measures highlighted by the BIS as part of this latest report included a doubling of spending to encourage more young people to enter into apprenticeships between now and the end of the decade, as well as the introduction of new degree-level apprenticeships to offer in-work training with university-class qualifications for those that complete the course.

In addition, the government has raised the minimum age of compulsory participation in some form of education or training to 18 in the UK and has introduced a commitment to reaching three million apprenticeship starts in England by 2020.

It is hoped that the number of young people that can be classed as NEETs across the UK therefore continues to decline in the coming years, with the efforts of businesses and the government key to ensuring that this is the case.