Wigan young folk’s low ambitions

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WIGAN teenagers have among the lowest ambitions in Greater Manchester, a new report claims.

A study by education specialists Ambitious Minds has revealed that the borough is ranked eight out of 10 worst areas in the region for opportunities for youngsters.

The Frustration of Aspiration: Being a teenager in England report assessed educational attainment, employment opportunities, housing and social factors in every local authority in England, to create a league table that ranks the best and the worst places to grow up.

Overall, Wigan is ranked 267 out of 324 in England. Studies show it is in line with the national average for education, but scores poorly on employment, as it has high levels of youth joblessness (nine per cent), and of long-term youth unemployment (1.4 per cent).

Wigan was also struggling in jobs density and household repossession claims (4.7 per 1,000 households).

Coun Susan Loudon, cabinet member for Children and Young People, said that while Wigan was not one of the better areas for teenage prospects, the authority was working to improve opportunities.

She said: “Here in Wigan, we are aiming to provide more opportunities for young people. The local authority has agreed to put extra money into apprenticeships to give young people options.

“We are linking with employers, so we know what they want and looking for vacancies which will occur in up to five years’ time, so we can prepare the youngsters. It is really important that teenagers understand that work is a good thing and that they have to start somewhere, and can gain more opportunities further along.”

Sean McGuire, chief executive of Ambitious Minds, said: “Our young people and their families are confronted by a combination of daunting problems, from the sharply rising cost of higher education, to the difficulty of getting onto the housing ladder, to the huge challenge of getting a job and building a career.

“One damaging consequence of these problems has serious implications for all of us. We cannot hope to prosper as a stable society, either economically or socially, if we are unable to create a pathway for young people through education, and then into useful and secure employment.

“The challenge that now faces us is to devise ways in which we assist aspiration and invest in the future of our young people and their hard-pressed families.”