Sharp rise in number of youngsters NEET for over a year, charity warns

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Progress in tackling youth unemployment has "ground to a halt", with an increase in the numbers not in education, employment or training (NEET) for over a year, a report claims.

The number of youngsters who are classed as NEET for over a year has risen sharply since recent government figures showed a fall of 68,000 over the past year to 800,000, said youth and education charity Impetus-PEF.

Chief executive Andy Ratcliffe said: "We've just come away from an election where the youth vote counted, but our findings show there are still crippling numbers of young people not in education, employment or training who aren't being counted at all.

"The headline drop in the number of young people who are neither earning or learning next to the increase in the numbers who are enduring this for over a year, confirms that we have a structural NEET problem in Britain that has not gone away."

Around 811,000 young people aged 16 to 24 spent a year or more not in education or work last year, an increase from the 714,000 who spent more than 12 months NEET in the previous year, according to the report.

Young Women's Trust chief executive Dr Carole Easton said the research highlighted many young people's struggle to find suitable jobs or training, adding: "Young Women's Trust research shows that young women in particular face significant barriers to work.

"Nearly half a million young women are still out of work and full-time education, despite wanting jobs and financial independence.

"Discrimination against women in job interviews remains rife and lots of women tell us the flexible hours they need to balance work with family are not available.

"In many cases, an hour's childcare can cost more than an hour's wages.

"As a result, young women are struggling to make ends meet. They are falling into debt, moving back in with their parents and putting their lives on hold."

A Government spokesman said: "Our reforms are ensuring all pupils are leaving school better prepared for further study and the world of work. The latest figures for the UK show that the number of 16 to 24-year-olds who are NEET is at a record low and that young people are participating at their highest rate since records began.

"But we are determined to see even more young people, whatever their background, gain the skills to get on in life and help build a stronger country. The steps we're taking to strengthen the curriculum, develop gold standard qualifications and provide high-quality apprenticeships, alongside our reforms to technical education will match the best education systems in the world and keep pace with universities' and employers' demands."