Latest NEET figures show another year on fall in the proportion of young people (16 and 17 year olds) not in education, employment or training; a drop from 6% in 2016 to 5.5% in 2018 (latest figures, DfE, 20th June 2019). Although this is worthy of mention and may reflect better socio- economic conditions bringing more opportunities, there are still 61, 830 16 and 17 year olds across the country not in education employment or training (this also includes those whose activity is not known to the local authority).In other words, 5.5% of the 1.1 million 16 and 17 year olds whose activity is known to their local authority.
Looking more closely at the distribution of NEETs across England, we see the all too familiar picture, with higher proportions of NEETs in the north east, north west, Yorkshire and Humber and the south west. In these areas the proportion of NEETs for this age group is higher than the national average; and in the north east, Yorkshire and Humber and the south west, the proportion and number of 16 and 17 year olds who are NEET has actually increased since 2016. And although boys are more likely to be NEET than girls (6.3% male: 4.8% female), there are higher than average proportions of both 16 and 17 year old boys and girls in these regions.
These are also the regions, where young people with SEN(D) are more likely to be NEET than their peers in other parts of England. Although, as it is widely known, those with SEN(D), that is SEN support or an EHC Plan or Statement, are less likely to be in education, employment or training post 16, than their peers without an identified SEN(D); the national figures for 2018 show that those with SEN(D) were almost twice as likely to be NEET than their peers ( 9.2% vs. 5.2 %).
But not being in education, employment or training at 16 or 17 years old is not just confined to the poorer regions of the country. London still has over 8000 young people not in education, employment or training, with over 9000 in the south east. And across all regions, it is the boys who are losing out on the opportunities. It doesn’t have to be like this.
As educators, perhaps we need to change more to bring change where it is needed. Education is not just about passing exams, but about having the social ,emotional, cultural and personal skills, not just to survive but to thrive in life and society; by 16 years old young people should have the skills they need to move more confidently to the next phase of their lives.