A bid to get more young people into education and training may be damaging the chances of unemployed 16 and 17-year-olds who would do better getting a job, says the Association of Learning Providers in England.
The battle to cut numbers of those not in education, employment or training (Neets) risks forcing people into qualifications-bearing courses that they may not be ready for, it says.
They would be better off starting work through entry to employment (e2e) schemes and re-engaging with learning through the workplace later, the association says in a policy paper, "Pre-employment Provision for Unemployed 1617-year-olds".
"The raising of the participation age . once again demonstrates the lack of pre-employment provision for this age group by shifting the emphasis of policy on 16 and 17-year-olds away from employment for them as a discrete objective, and on to engagement in learning," it says.
"We are therefore led to the conclusion that in general terms, the state is not committed to the prospect of 16 and 17-year-olds being in work, certainly not to the same extent as those aged 18-plus."
The paper says that any loss of e2e provision, which is being rolled into qualifications-based Foundation Learning, is "neither desirable nor wise" and says this provision should be retained.
It also calls for better financial support for jobless 16 and 17-year- olds.