Stevenage NEETS highest in county

THE number of young people in Stevenage who are not employed, in education or training is the highest in the county.

NEET – Not in Education, Employment or Training – rates for 16-18-year-olds in the town currently stand at six per cent. It is the highest of the 11 districts in Hertfordshire, and two per cent more than the county average.

The NEET rate for those aged 16-24 is also causing concern, and has nearly doubled in just one year from 125 to 230.

Cllr Sharon Taylor, leader of Stevenage Borough Council said that more needed to be done to combat the problem.

The borough council is looking to increasing apprenticeships at its offices or with its contractors from two to 12.

“It is the responsibility of any organisation to help work through this. We owe it to all these young people to make sure that they are not wasting opportunities in those years which are absolutely crucial,” she said.

“Young people that are out of work never catch up, or not until much later. It would be a terrible waste.

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“The problem with many businesses is they don’t have the confidence to take these young people on, and we need to change that. I think this needs talking about on a national level too.”

Meanwhile, NEET rates in North Herts have seen the biggest improvement in the county, with 3.9 per cent of 16-18 year olds in that category, down from 5.3 per cent this time last year.

It is slightly lower than the county average, which remains at four per cent for the second year running.

North Hertfordshire College, which has campuses in Hitchin, Letchworth GC and Stevenage, is hoping to reduce this figure further.

Matt Bean, campaign manager at the college, said: “NHC is unique in its approach to engaging young people in North Herts, working in partnership with organisations including Connexions and The Princes Trust.

“[It] offers courses in a wide range of subjects throughout the academic year, including future choices, a personal development course which gives young people a chance to experience all aspects of college life that includes an employability qualification which will enhance job prospects and confidence.

“For any young people hungry to become apprentices, the college offers Wednesday afternoon pre-apprenticeship sessions with guidance on applications and interviews.”

For more information on the next future choices course, which starts on March 12, call 01462 424242.