Newly published figures show that almost 1.2 million people aged 16 to 24 in the UK are classed as "NEET" – not in education, employment or training – as school-leavers continue to be at the sharp end of the current economic climate, writes Graeme Paton at the Telegraph.
The number of youngsters with effectively nothing to do increased by more than 12 per cent in the last twelve months in England, leaving more under-24s looking for work than at any time since records began in the early 90s.
In response to the data, the Labour party claimed that this shows that a generation of teenagers are being "left on the shelf," and business leaders have urged the Government to come up with emergency measures to "spur business growth and get firms taking on more young people," mounting press on Prime Minister Cameron.
However, the Department of Education has claimed that these figures are not truly representative of the situation as they picked up the number of youngsters moving between school, college and university over the summer months.
"We know that attainment at age 16 is the most important factor in later participation and our ambitious school reforms will help to prepare young people for success," a spokesman added.
According to figures:
- Some 1,163,000 people aged 16 to 24 were considered NEET between July and September – 19.2 per cent of the age group.
- Among 19- to 24-year-olds alone, some 21.5 per cent were out of work and without a university or training place.
- Giving a total jump by more than 100,000 to 896,000.
Shadow education secretary Stephen Twigg said the data is "nothing short of shocking" and blamed a Government decision to axe the £1bn Future Jobs Fund combined with the withdrawal of Educational Maintenance Allowances for teenagers.
"This is a generation that is being left on the shelf by this Tory-led Government," he said, "Not only is this a shocking waste of these young people's talents and skills, it is a massive drain on the country. It is no wonder the government will miss its own deficit reduction targets."
A DfE spokesman added: "The number of young people not in education, employment or training has been too high for too long – we are determined to bring the numbers down.
"We know that many young people move between school, college, university and work during the summer, which explains why NEET figures are higher during this quarter. But we will not be complacent and are taking action now to address this issue."