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The missing teenagers: councils failing to record of who is and isn't a Neet

A dozen local authorities in England are to receive angry letters from the government after it emerged they don’t know whether many of their teens are in education or training.

New statistics released yesterday revealed 88 per cent of 16- and 17-year-olds were in education or training as of June 2013, up 1 per cent on 2012.

But the figures also show that on average the activity of some 4 per cent of 16 and 17-year-olds is unknown, and in some local authorities it is as high as 22 per cent.

When figures for 18-year-olds are included the rates are considerably higher and some councils have no information about huge portions of their teenage population.

In Waltham Forest the council does not know what a fifth of 16- to 18-year-olds are doing, while in Oxfordshire and Birmingham it is a quarter, and in Poole a third.

A law brought in this summer requires all young people to take part in education or training until the end of the academic year in which they turn 17. By 2015 this will rise to 18.

Local authorities have a responsibility to track and record young people’s participation in education or training, by exchanging information with schools colleges and youth services and through direct contact.

Skills Minister Matthew Hancock (pictured) has written to twelve authorities causing concern to remind them of their responsibilities.

He said it was essential councils kept track of what young people are doing so they could be offered appropriate help such as traineeships or apprenticeships.

“We are determined to do everything we can to tackle the problem of youth unemployment and this starts by identifying our young people who are neet [not in education, employment or training],” he said

“These new figures show a worrying variation in how well councils track participation in education and training among 16- and 17-year-olds. Some are performing superbly while others are falling behind.

“You can’t manage what you don’t measure, so I have written to authorities we have particular concerns about to remind them of their duty to collect this crucial information.”

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