· News

Number of young people not in education, employment or training falls

The number of young people not in education, employment or training (NEET) has fallen slightly year-on-year, according to new data.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said there were an estimated 765,000 young people (aged 16 to 24 years) in the UK who were NEET in April to June 2020, a decrease of 28,000 compared with April to June 2019 and down by 6,000 compared with January to March 2020.

The percentage of all young people in the UK who were NEET in April to June 2020 was estimated at 11.1%, down by 0.3% year-on-year and by 0.1% compared with January to March 2020.

Of all young people in the UK who were NEET in April to June 2020, an estimated 39% were looking for, and available for, work and therefore classified as unemployed. The remainder were either not looking for work and/or not available for work and were classified as economically inactive.

TUC general secretary Frances O'Grady warned there is a danger that this progress could be reversed following the coronavirus pandemic if the government does not take the required action.

“Protecting jobs remains vital. Young people work in higher numbers in hard-hit sectors like arts, leisure and retail. We need the government to look at job retention support beyond October for businesses that can't yet fully operate, but still have a viable future.

“For young people without work, the Kickstart programme will help. But there must be a role for unions in the scheme to make sure that the jobs on offer are good quality.

“And there needs to be an education and training guarantee for young people too, so they have the option to improve their skills either at college or through an apprenticeship.”

LinkedIn director Janine Chamberlin said young people are “perfectly placed to grab” new employment opportunities created by consumer demand.

“In the last month, LinkedIn data shows a surge in demand from companies looking to bolster customer service and support capabilities, with supermarkets, convenience stores and retailers in particular looking for customer service assistants and personal shoppers.

“To help young people land these jobs, we’ve made online learning courses available for free on communication and problem-solving skills, which are integral to these roles, as well as other essential skills at opportunity.linkedin.com.”

The British Psychological Society (BPS), meanwhile, has cautioned that failing to take action to provide psychological support for young people could have widespread, long-term implications for society, as the impact of the pandemic continues to affect learning, training and employment opportunities.

The BPS said urgent interventions are needed to support the mental health and wellbeing of young people, and it has published new expert psychological guidance to help professionals support them into further learning, training or jobs.

Janet Fraser, chair of the BPS’ Working Differently task group, which produced the guidance, said many young people will feel that the odds of achieving their goals are stacked against them due to the current situation.

“That’s why it’s so important that now, more than ever, we take positive action to empower young people, work with them to support their ambitions, show them a way forward and help them overcome the barriers they face.”