Record number of inactive youngsters sparks fear of ‘lost generation’

By Gabriel Huntley

The number of young people not in employment, education or training has increased to record levels, government statistics released today show.

In the second quarter of this year, the figure rose by 100,000, according to the figures released by the Department of Children, Schools and Families.

There are now 835,000 18-24-year-olds not in education, employment or training (Neets), up from 730,000 a year ago.

Including 16-18-year olds there are 959,000 Neets aged under 24, and over ten per cent of under 18s fall into this category.

The statistics demonstrate the depth of the recession’s impact on young people, who face the most difficult job market in decades and increased competition for university places, with a record number of applications this year.

In response to the statistics, Liberal Democrat shadow schools spokesman David Laws has accused the government of failing young people.

“Labour claimed it would reduce the number of Neets. Instead it has failed spectacularly and there are now more than ever,” he said.

“The government has not given young people the support they need and risks creating a lost generation.”

Last week’s employment figures revealed that there are now almost a million claimants of unemployment benefit under 25, with the figure standing at 928,000.

Earlier this year the government announced that under-24s out of work and education for more than six months would be guaranteed training or work experience.