Sunday, 20 July 2008

Busy doing nothing

Most of you are aware of my interest in disadvantaged young people and, because of that, my Chairmanship of the Prince’s Trust Technology Leadership Group. Today, research from the LSE shows that the proportion of 16-17 year-olds in the UK not in education, employment or training (commonly called NEETs) is not the 7% HM Govt reckons, but 18%. Put another way, one-in-five 16-17 year-olds is busy doing nothing all day. See BBC News report.

Given that the number is even higher for young white males and even higher still in the very worst areas, we could be facing NEET ratios of over 30% in some areas. This really is a really shocking situation. On top of that I’ve just been listening to an employer saying that he would far prefer to take on a Polish youngster than an indigenous youngster as “they are better educated and have a much better work attitude”.

In my experience, the NEET situation is getting worse and worse. The consequences are to be seen on many of our High Streets – not just late at night but throughout the day. It is also an appalling waste of our resources.

By providing mentors, the Prince’s Trust is one of the most effective charities in the UK at getting NEETs back into worthwhile occupations or training. Problem is that the limits on its funds means it can only scratch the surface of the problem. One of the reasons why we all work so hard for the Trust.

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