Leaving age 'damaging'

25th January 2008 at 00:00

Raising the education leaving age will hurt the economy, according to a leading academic, writes Steve Hook.

Professor Alison Wolf has published a report for Policy Exchange, a think tank, claiming the benefits of making children stay in education or training until 18 have been overestimated by ministers.

She said the policy could prove more expensive than previously thought. Seventy per cent of 16- and 17-year olds who are in work are employed by small or medium-sized businesses which will struggle to accommodate the 280 hours a year of guided learning that will be required by the legislation.

Professor Wolf predicts the effect will be for smaller firms to stop hiring teenagers, leading to productivity losses of pound;477 million a year.

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