There has been the biggest quarterly increase in the number of young people not in education, employment or training (Neet) in almost a decade, new figures reveal.
In the final quarter of last year, there were an estimated 797,000 classed as Neet – an increase of 39,000 compared with July to September 2020, and up by 34,000 on the figure for October to December 2019.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said the latest quarterly increase was the largest since July to September 2011, and was almost entirely driven by what it calls economically inactive men.
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In yesterday's Spring Budget, chancellor Rishi Sunak announced new funding for both traineeships and apprenticeships to support people into work. Traineeships are set to get a £126 million boost to fund 40,000 more places, and employer incentives for apprenticeships will rise to £3,000, regardless of the age of the apprentice.
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ONS head of labour market and households David Freeman said: “After reaching a record low last quarter, the number of Neets has now seen its largest quarterly increase since its 2011 peak.
“This follows the economic impact of the most recent heavy Covid-19 restrictions, and tallies with other recent data that suggests almost three-fifths of the fall in employees since the onset of the pandemic has been among the under-25s.”
The ONS added that 11.6 per cent of 16- to 24-year-olds in the UK were classed as Neet in the latest three months, up by 0.6 percentage points on July to September.
Around two out of five were unemployed and looking for work, while the rest were classed as economically inactive.