Youths facing bleak future

THE Government today pledged to help the quarter of young Wigan and Leigh adults who are jobless and have no work experience or education places.

New figures identify the borough as a national blackspot with the third highest number of 16 to 25-year-olds deemed NEET (not in education, employment or training) in the country.

It is further grim news for school leavers following statistics last month which showed that a third of all the borough’s unemployed are under-25s.

And fears were voiced again today that a whole generation could be lost to the world of work if measures are not taken soon to get younger people either into a job, training scheme or further or higher education.

The report for the National Equity Foundation shows that all the towns and cities to appear in its top 10 of NEET hotspots are either in the North of England, Midlands or Wales, with Grimsby holding the unenviable top position.

Wigan MP Lisa Nandy today refused to call for special measures to help the most stricken areas, arguing that the Government needed to be reviving apprentice schemes and the education maintenance allowance and doing more to stimulate growth.

She said: “There needs to be help across the board. If everyone is helped then there are knock-on effects for Wigan too.

“A quarter of young adults deemed NEET is shockingly high but I can’t say I am surprised.”

A Government spokesman said: “The number of young people not in education, employment or training has been too high for too long – we are acting to bring the numbers down.

“Government departments are working together to ensure that all those aged 16 to 24 are provided with the support they need to get the skills for work. We have already seen a 50 per cent increase in the number of people starting an apprenticeship and will continue to build on this.

“By the end of this Parliament we will have supported 250,000 more adult apprenticeship places than under the previous Government’s plans. Where young people need extra help to make the grade for an apprenticeship our Access to Apprenticeships programme will provide basic skills training and work experience to ensure that no-one is left behind.

“We will raise the participation age, so all 16- and 17-year-olds are in education or training by 2015, and later this month we will set out new measures to improve post-16 participation.”