Department for Education
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Skills Minister writes to councils over teen participation concerns

Matthew Hancock has written to 12 local authorities who are failing to properly track 16- to 18-year-olds' education or training involvement.

New statistics released today show nationally 88% of 16- and 17-year-olds were in education or training as of June 2013 - up 1% on 2012.

However, on average the activity of 4% of 16- and 17-year-olds is unknown and in some local authorities it is as high as 22%.

When the statistics for 18-year-olds are included the rates are considerably higher and some councils have no information about huge portions of their teenage population.

The combined statistics for 16- to 18-year-olds show:

  • in Poole the activity of one-third is unknown
  • in Oxfordshire and Birmingham it is a quarter
  • in Waltham Forest the council does not know what a fifth of 16- to 18-year-olds are doing

Skills Minister Matthew Hancock said it was essential councils kept track of what young people are doing so they could be offered appropriate help - such as traineeships or apprenticeships.

He said:

We are determined to do everything we can to tackle the problem of youth unemployment and this starts by identifying our young people who are NEET.

These new figures show a worrying variation in how well councils track participation in education and training among 16- and 17-year-olds.

Some are performing superbly while others are falling behind.

You can’t manage what you don’t measure, so I have written to authorities we have particular concerns about to remind them of their duty to collect this crucial information.

The government has introduced a series of reforms to boost the numbers of young people taking part in education and training.

By 2015 everyone will be legally required to stay in education or training until they are 18. Young people can do this through full-time education, a waged apprenticeship or work or volunteering combined with part-time education or training.

The government will also implement proposals from the Richard Review to increase the quality of apprenticeships so they offer consistently high-quality preparation for young people working in a skilled occupation. The government has already introduced a new programme of traineeships to help young people aged 16 to 23 develop the skills and attributes they need to secure apprenticeships and other sustainable jobs.

Notes to editors

  1. Download the full participation statistics for 16- and 17-year–olds.
  2. Figures for the participation of 18-year-olds are released in December.
  3. Local authorities have duties in respect of the education and training of 16- to 19-year-olds which are clearly set out in statutory guidance.
  4. The local authorities who received a letter from the Skills Minister are:
    • Gloucestershire
    • Birmingham
    • Tower Hamlets
    • Waltham Forest
    • Poole
    • South Gloucestershire
    • Herefordshire
    • Shropshire
    • Stoke-on-Trent
    • Derby
    • Derbyshire
    • Lincolnshire
  5. The Department for Education has recently funded 39 local authorities to deliver local projects, aimed at finding ways of tackling local barriers to increasing participation. These have been evaluated and ‘top tips’ and case studies are available. Download the evaluation.


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