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Business must not be complacent, despite fall in NEET figures

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A generation of lost talent is still threatening the future of the UK economy, despite a fall in the number of young people not in education, employment or training (NEET), according to City and Guilds chief executive Chris Jones.

Figures released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show that the number of people aged 16-24-years-old classed as NEET fell by 61,000 from October to December 2013. The figure is down to 975,000, a decline of 118,000 from 12 months previously. 

Jones welcomed the lower numbers but warned against complacency, saying he is worried about the future of Britain's economy if more is not done. 

"There are still 13.5% of young people in this position, slipping through the cracks," he said. "It’s creating a lost generation of talent."

Jones added that business and Government must communicate more effectively with young people to solve the problem, especially around options available when they leave school. 

"[Talk about] not just university, but apprenticeships and other vocational qualifications too," he said. "To achieve this, we need to give them careers advice that is relevant to the 21st century."

Andrew Hunter, co-founder of recruitment company Adzuna, said the UK employment market has enjoyed a "rapid turnaround" in the last 12 months. He added that the distribution of new jobs for young people is especially encouraging. 

"This is slowly helping to close the labour market’s North-South divide," he said. "The ten worst cities to find a job in the country are all still in the North. But in each and every one of them, the ratio of job seekers to vacancies is falling as employers invest in larger workforces."