Up to 50,000 teenagers studying dead-end courses, claims think-tank

Tens of thousands of 16 to 18-year-olds are taking dead-end courses that will end with no job and will turn them off education and training, a policy think-tank has warned.

The Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) claimed huge numbers of late teens were facing the Neet (not in education, employment or training) scrapheap by studying low-level courses that offer little or no job preparation or incentive toward further study.

Almost 250,000 teenagers who left school without good qualifications are studying these courses but IPPR says that up to a fifth would be better off on an apprenticeship or in stronger forms of pre-apprenticeship training.

The IPPR’s new report, which is part of its flagship Condition of Britain project, is the second in a series of three on young people, work and benefits that it is publishing this month.

It shows that more than half a million young people who left education with just a low level qualification are not in work.

Kayte Lawton, senior research fellow at the IPPR, said: “Most young people don’t choose to walk away from work or education, but most employers won’t hire teenagers any more.

“Young people who don’t do well enough at school often end up taking colleges courses that don’t prepare them for work or further study. Many of these courses don’t include enough decent work experience and often fail to lead to a recognised qualification.

“School-leavers used to be able to get good jobs in manufacturing and office work that didn’t need lots of qualifications but were a source of self-respect as well as a decent pay packet. Now, low-skilled jobs in service industries are often badly paid and lacking in status, but also require skills like relating to customers that many young jobseekers have yet to learn.

“We need to see big changes to the way that post-16 education works and we need employers to step up and offer more work experience to young people to help them learn the skills they need to get on in the workplace. We can’t expect schools to do this by themselves.”

The new IPPR analysis shows that, between 2006 and 2010, more than one-in-five of those studying for a level two qualification at age 16/17 and 17/18 ends up Neet by the time they are 19/20, and nearly in one in four doing level one courses ends up Neet. The group is more than three times as likely to be Neet at age 19/20, than those studying for A/AS-levels at the same ages.

IPPR’s new report shows that more than half a million (560,000) young people who left education with just a low level qualification are not in work. It also shows that the lower the level of your qualifications, the less likely you are to find a job.

It comes ahead of the publication of the latest statistics on the number of young Neets. Labour Force Survey research showed in August that the proportion of England’s 16 to 24-year-olds who were Neet between April and June was down on the same period last year by 51,000 (0.8 percentage points) to 935,000 (15.5 per cent).

The IPPR report, The Condition of Britain: Growing up and becoming an adult, is out today. It used data from the Youth Cohort Study between 2006 and 2010 to track what happens to 17 and 18-year-olds in education.