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Executive must address high levels of young people ‘Not In Education, Employment or Training’ (NEET) - Ramsey

7 December, 2009 - by Sue Ramsey

Sinn Féin MLA and chair of the Committee for Employment and learning at the Assembly has welcomed the passing of the motion seeking to highlight the need to address the problem of young people who are ‘Not In Education, Employment or Training’ (NEET) and has urged the Executive to develop a strategy to meet this challenge head on.

Speaking today Ms Ramsey said:

“The growing numbers of young people facing unemployment and not in any kind of training or education should be of concern to all of us. Its impact in-terms of health, education, aspiration and future can be devastating.

“Yet we have 47,000 16 to 24 year olds who are currently ‘Not In Education, Employment or Training’ (NEET). This is 1 in 5 of all 16 to 24 year olds, 12,000 of these young people are aged 16 – 18 years of age. This is a staggering figure that demands immediate action.

“Young people under 25 in the North have an unemployment rate of 12% which is four times that of people aged 25 and over. They have carried the brunt of many of the current job losses of this recession and their numbers have increased here by 90% over the last year.

“This is not a situation we can afford to ignore. The last time there was such a serious rise in youth unemployment the failure to act meant many young people simply became long term unemployed.

“It has been estimated that being NEET cost £100,000 over the lifetime of a young person. Therefore failing to help the 12,000 16 to 18 year olds who are currently NEET would cost well over £1bn to the economy in the North. We cannot afford this kind of cost or fail to harness the talent that many of these young people will have.

“I would not under-estimate the nature of this problem nor the scale of the task in beginning to address it. It is crucial if we are not to face another Lost Generation of young people that the Executive acts now to make this a priority and that the Minister is supported across his Executive colleagues in developing a strategy, as a matter of urgency.”

The motion reads:

That this Assembly notes that one third of all benefit claimants are
now under 25 years old and that one fifth of people aged 16-24 are
classed as ‘Not in Education, Employment or Training’; welcomes the study on this issue currently being undertaken by the Department for Employment and Learning; and calls on the Minister to bring forward a cross-departmental strategy and programme in conjunction with Executive colleagues to prevent these young people becoming a lost generation.

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