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Young people have to stay in education longer

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New rules came into force this week meaning young people will have to stay in education or training until age 17 from 2013 and age 18 from 2015.

The Education and Skills Act, developed in consultation with organisations such as the Confederation of British Industry and the British Chambers of Commerce, comes in response to employer demands for a higher skilled workforce.

The Leitch review in 2006 highlighted the importance of skills in the workplace and, as predictions indicate the number of unskilled employees will shrink from 3.2 million in 2004 to 600,000 in 2020, unqualified applicants will find it increasingly difficult to find employment.

The Act will bring a package of reforms to expand apprenticeship schemes, revamp GCSEs and A levels. Students will also receive increased training in English, Maths, ICT and learning and thinking skills to produce more work-ready young people.

Ed Balls, children, schools and families secretary, said: "In a rapidly changing labour market and these tough economic conditions, a job for life is a thing of the past. Young people without qualifications are going to find it increasingly difficult to gain employment. We must have an evolving education system that reflects the requirements of employers and the pace of change in business. No young person should be left behind."