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‘Our young people will be part of a lost generation’
A TRAINING boss fears that North-East youngsters will join a lost generation because not enough has been done to help them into work or further education.
The TTE Technical Training Group has welcomed this year’s intake of trainees, but revealed that more places could have been given to school leavers, who may already have joined the region’s growing ranks of Neets – 16 to 18-year-olds not in education, employment or training.
Nearly 170 trainees have started engineering courses at TTE’s Middlesbroughbased training centre, but the charity has the funding and space to take on a further 57.
TTE managing director Steve Grant is concerned that despite the Government claiming it would reduce the number of Neets, not enough has been done to prevent students who left school this summer, from drifting away from education or employment.
He said a more co-ordinated approach was needed by schools, training providers and Government agencies.
“I am concerned that the young people who left school this summer have, within a matter of weeks, been caught up in the cycle of unemployment.
They will become a lost generation very quickly,” said Mr Grant.
“It is not uncommon for young people to say there are no opportunities for them, but the places we have available proves that is not the case. The challenge is to make them more aware of what is on offer and maintain engagement throughout their school years and, most importantly, when they finish their GCSEs. “ He added: “Without greater co-ordination between schools, the Government and organisations like TTE, these young people will continue to populate the Neet statistics, rather than being part of the next generation of skilled workers.”
Last year, the North-East had the highest number of Neets in the country – nearly 14 per cent.
The crisis prompted Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg to unveil the Youth Contract, the centrepiece of which is a £2,275 payment to firms to take on 160,000 18 to 24-year-olds.
However, the work and pensions committee recently voiced fears that the incentives may be too low, the scheme is unlikely to reach many jobless young people and too much money will be spent in the more prosperous South.
At a local level, initiatives have been launched such as the Foundation for Jobs campaign, a drive to help young jobseekers find work, internships or apprenticeships.
Backed by Darlington Borough Council, The Northern Echo and the Darlington Partnership of public and private sector organisations, the campaign has created more than 70 apprenticeship places for young people in Darlington since it was launched in January.
More than 90 young people have also taken part in work experience or internships.
In addition, at least 600 people are expected to have taken part in activities designed to build their links with industry by mid-November, and more than 60 have taken part in activity designed to develop their entrepreneurial skills.