Hidden Talents: A Statistical Overview of the Participation Patterns of Young People Aged 16-24

Simon Rutt, Palak Mehta, Tim Allen

21 March 2012

Executive Summary

This report offers a start point for the Local Government Association (LGA) commissioned research to inform the Hidden Talents programme. It reviews available statistics, data and commentary to establish what can be reasonably deduced to inform policy in response to young people aged 16 – 24 years who are not in employment, education or training (NEET).

Key Findings

  • Young people described as NEET are not a homogeneous group. The term spans a core of young people with deep rooted problems; an element who are short term and who are generally able to find a future; and those at risk either because of personal lack of direction, or because they are adversely impacted by shifting economic circumstances.
  • There was a significant decline in the percentage of young people aged 16 – 24 classified as NEET between 1992 and 1997, the NEET rate remained broadly stable between 1997 and 2008; and rose sharply from 2008. In the past year there has been an increase of 13% in those who are classified as NEET.
  • English regional NEET rates crudely reflect the strength of the economy in the South East, with higher rates of NEET in the North and West Midlands. However, these regional figures mask the variations in local performance and conditions.
  • The core group with deep rooted problem is much more likely to have experienced poor social conditions and poor educational attainment along with low family achievement. Looking beyond this group, young people are particularly vulnerable to economic downturn, typically because they tend to have less experience or skills.
  • Positive early experience in accessing and participating in the labour market has longer-term benefits, just as a ‘poor start’ makes it harder to succeed later.
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