New government data shows that 774,000 16- to 25-year-olds in England were Neet between January and March – down 135,000 on last year and the lowest rate for this quarter since 2005.
Broken down, the data, published by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skill and the Department for Education, shows that 122,000 16- to 18-year-olds were Neet – 29,000 fewer than last year and the lowest since comparable data began in 2001.
Meanwhile, 652,000 19- to 24-year-olds were Neet – down 105,000 on last year and the lowest rate since 2008.
The data also shows that 94.2 per cent of 16- and 17-year-olds are in education and training, the highest rate since 2001 reflecting the rise from 16 to 17 in the compulsory participation age introduced in September 2013.
Meanwhile, new figures published by the Office for National Statistics show that 975,000 16- to 24-year-olds in the UK were Neet during the same quarter – a decrease of 118,000 from the previous year.
Skills and enterprise minister Matthew Hancock said the figures are proof the government’s policies to tackle the issue are working.
He said: “The figures show the progress being made to ensure that all young people are equipped with the skills that allow them to begin productive and prosperous careers.
“I’m particularly pleased to see that the proportion of 16- to 18-year-olds who are Neet is at the lowest level since records began – this is further evidence that our long-term economic plan is securing young people’s future.
“Every young person should be given the chance to reach their potential, whether that is through studying or training, embarking on an apprenticeship or traineeship or entering the world of work.”
Similarly Rhian Johns, director of policy and campaigns at philanthropic organisation Impetus-Pef, said: “This is great news – any reduction in the Neet level is to be welcomed.
“Our research shows that as little as six months out of education, employment or training before the age of 24 has a profound impact on a person’s earning potential and job security well into their forties.”
However, Karren Brady, businesswoman and ambassador of Life Skills, said Neet levels are still too high.
She said: “Already, one in eight children grow up in workless homes and if the causes of youth unemployment aren’t addressed, we risk causing a cycle of unemployment that will have lasting, damaging impact on our society.
“The solution is to ensure that young people are prepared for work before they leave education – that’s why I’m asking businesses to do more to help.”