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Rise in number of NEETs, says ONS

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More than one in 10 people aged 16 to 24? in the UK are not in education, employment or training (NEET)

Around 857,000 young people aged 16 to 24 are now NEET, according to the ONS, whose latest statistics measure from July to September 2016. This represents an increase of 14,000 people from the April to June 2016 figures, with the figure up 3,000 from the same period a year earlier.

Nearly half (43%) of these NEETs were looking and available for work, and therefore classified as unemployed. The remainder were either not looking for work and/or not available for work and therefore classified as economically inactive. Of those who were unemployed, 143,000 were women and 226,000 were men.

Steve Hill, external engagement director at The Open University, said the UK should urgently consider more high-quality work-based training options. “The UK has long suffered from the so-called productivity puzzle, which sees us lag behind our G7 counterparts in terms of output per worker,” he said. “The NEET problem is another facet of the fact that the skills needs of businesses are not being met, and is a tragedy for a generation of young people as well.

“We need to adapt our skills pipeline to provide businesses with employees who have the relevant know-how and experience of the workplace – and to provide young individuals with the tools to boost their employability.”

Doug Monro, co-founder of Adzuna, agreed action must be taken. “With youth unemployment on the rise this core feature of the job market deserves more attention, and more importantly concrete action to follow up the encouraging tone of yesterday's Autumn Statement,” he said. “The rise of the gig economy has opened up a window for young people without enthusiasm for the traditional nine to five."

He added: “Flexibility has become a key component within the jobs market, which aims to attract those with creative skills and an entrepreneurial spirit. This means young people have more options to pursue career paths that fall outside the status quo. Apprenticeships and internships remain invaluable and offer young people a safe and practical way to explore new career options and gain transferable skills, which can only add value to a future employer.”