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Target group falls through the net

There has been virtually no change in the hardcore of young people who are not in education, training or employment, the so-called NEET group, since Labour came to power in 1997.

A parliamentary written answer from Jim Wallace, Lifelong Learning Minister, showed that 14 per cent of 16-19s are in this group compared with 13 per cent in 1997-98.

This is one indice which shows barely no difference between boys and girls - 15 per cent of the age group are NEET males and 13 per cent are female.

While the proportion of girls has steadily fallen since its 16 per cent peak two years ago, the number of NEET boys has also declined from a high of 17 per cent last year.

A reduction in the numbers of the "disappeared" is a key target of the Scottish Executive's social justice policies.

As with exam results, the figures are closely linked to poverty levels and where young people live. East Renfrewshire has only 6.5 per cent of 16-19s in the NEET group while Glasgow has the highest at 19 per cent.

The proportion of NEET youngsters not unexpectedly rises with age, representing 16 per cent of 18 and 19-year-olds compared with 9 per cent of 16-year-olds.

For once, Glasgow does not prop up the the table. Its 18 per cent of 19-year-olds in the NEET group compares with 25 per cent in Clackmannanshire and 8.7 per cent in East Renfrewshire.

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