RADICAL REFORM NEEDED TO HELP MORE YOUNG PEOPLE ACCESS EDUCATION, EMPLOYMENT OR TRAINING, SAY MPs
Radical change is needed if the Government's latest initiative to increase young people's participation in education, employment or training is to be more successful than past interventions, concludes the Children, Schools and Families Committee in a report published today.
Whilst some progress has been made towards developing a strategy for 16-24 year olds, the Committee urges the Government to move more quickly to establish a seamless, overarching strategy for this age group.
Young people make progress at different rates and many require tailored provision well beyond the age of 18. The Committee recommends extending current policies to a wider range of young people.
In the Netherlands, the equivalent of the Jobseeker's Allowance is dependent on compulsory participation in education, employment or training. This may be the way forward for the UK.
Many young people looking for work or training need better access to advice on claiming benefits, housing support, or health matters. Providing all these services in a 'one-stop shop' could well meet this need and prove more cost-effective.
The Committee was deeply impressed by the work done by some local authorities to increase participation rates among 16-18 year olds. However, existing rewards and incentives offered by the Government are not sufficient to drive widespread improvement. The Government should consider strengthening the incentives offered to local authorities who are successful in raising rates of participation.
Barry Sheerman MP, Committee Chair, said: "The Government has to ask itself why the proportion of 16-18 year olds not in education, employment or training has remained at around 10%, despite one policy strategy after another. It is time to take a more radical approach and to look at the example of the Netherlands, where rates of youth unemployment are consistently low and where young people up to the age of 27 have a more unified support structure. Achieving the necessary breakthrough by significantly reducing the numbers of young people falling through the gap will be a key challenge for the next Government."