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News: Councils call for more power to help young people into work or learning

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Council leaders have warned that thousands of young people could miss out on education or employment if the government fails to completely overhaul its approach to youth services.

The Local Government Association (LGA) has therefore urged the government to give local authorities more responsibility and funding to run youth training and employment schemes.

Such a move would mean that 95% of all young people – around half a million - could be in work or learning over the next five years, it claimed.

According to the latest official statistics, nearly 800,000 young people in England are not in any employment, education or training (NEET).

Councils currently have responsibility for helping people aged 16 to 18 years-old into education or employment, while those aged between 19 and 24 mainly rely on centrally-governed services such as Jobcentre Plus.

According to the LGA, there has been a 44% fall in the number of 16-18 year-olds not in education or work, compared to a 7.5% drop in centrally-governed services for 19-24 year-olds over the same period.

With a complex network of over 30 national schemes and programmes all trying to help young people into work, council leaders warn that, without reform, a third of all young people will be unemployed or struggling to find enough work by 2018.

Cllr David Simmonds, chairman of the LGA's children and young people board, said that in areas where councils have taken the lead, the number of teenagers disengaging is now at an all-time low.

"Government needs to allow councils and their local partners to fully take the lead and develop quality services that are built around the needs of young people and employers rather than complex national bureaucracies.

"Across the country, we are seeing dramatic falls in the number of NEETS where councils are seizing the agenda, but in the face of bureaucratic burdens councils cannot sustain this forever.

“Local solutions are clearly proving to be the answer and government needs to act now to allow councils to drive it forward and help all young people reach their potential."

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Lucie Mitchell

Editor, HRzone.co.uk

Read more from Lucie Mitchell
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