Action needed to tackle teens not in work or educationBy Victoria Corbett
December 01, 2009
A learning centre is needed to address the high numbers of teenagers not in work or education in Wokingham.
The proportion of teenagers Not in Education, Employment or Training (NEETs) in the town is among the highest in the south east and a series of actions needed to help young people have been produced in a draft strategy from Wokingham Borough Council.
Actions include building a learning centre, accessible by public transport, to provide basic education and vocational courses to young people.
The proportion of NEETs in October was 8.5 per cent, 4.4 per cent above the council’s target for the figure.
In a report Andy Couldrick, general manager of children’s services, said: “While jobs they might have gone into have decreased, there are also insufficient college and training places for those who might otherwise take-up the offer.”
He added: “During the first part of 2009, the proportion of NEETs has been consistently 1.5 per cent above that of 2008 and over the summer increased to 13.8 per cent as those leaving school came onto the register – among the highest in the south east region.
“By October this figure had decreased to 8.5 per cent as this group of young people returned to education or found work or training.”
The council proposes offering a wider choice of courses at Key Stage Four, encouraging advice and guidance provided by Connexions Berkshire advisers and a new mentoring initiative in partnership with Reading Borough Council. There are also proposals to improve the offer of further education and training for 16 to 18-year-olds through more flexible provision and introduce apprenticeships in the council, as well as through its partners.
The council wants to provide better support for hard-to-reach groups and to focus on young offenders, which is a group it says is at risk, by offering more alternative provision to get them back into education.
Mr Couldrick’s report notes the causes of the high proportion of teenagers out of work or education includes failing to take account of the increasing number of young people wanting to stay in education post 16.
It also says many NEETs have been in jobs where no training was required – in areas such as hospitality and catering, retail and unskilled manual work – which have been adversely affected by the recession.
The report adds: “Training provision for Wokingham NEETs is inadequate – particularly for those who do not have good GCSEs.”
The council has proposed building a learning centre in Winnersh Triangle, however its future is uncertain while the council works to secure funding.