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Report reveals blackspots for young people not in education, employment or training across Great Britain

Tom Phillips

04 November 2011

For immediate release: 4 November 2011

Report reveals blackspots for young people not in education, employment or training across Great Britain

A report published today (4 November) by The Work Foundation and Private Equity Foundation has uncovered ten blackspots for youth disengagement - cities where between one in five and one in four young people are not in education, employment or training (NEET). The recession exacerbated this problem, with the largest increases in NEET rates in those cities which already had high levels.

Launched as part of a research partnership with the Private Equity Foundation, Off the map? The geography of NEETs examines NEET rates for 16 – 24 year olds across Great Britain. It identifies a group of blackspots for the problem (see appendix 1 for full listing and map) and argues that without effective, targeted action from government and business, a generation of young people in these cities will face a bleak future in the labour market.

The report warns that young people are facing two pressures which are contributing to this worsening trend. Firstly, rapidly rising unemployment means fewer entry level jobs, with young, less experienced workers more vulnerable to job losses. This has led to a crisis in youth employment rates, with Q3 figures expected to exceed one million. Alongside this, spending cuts are restricting youth services and reducing the ability of government to respond to the crisis.

Neil Lee, author and Senior Economist, said: “The number of young people who are NEET is one of the UK’s most serious social problems. For a young person, being out of education, employment or training can have major ramifications, including long-term reductions in wages and increased chances of unemployment later in life, as well as social or psychological problems arising as a result of sustained unemployment.”

Shaks Ghosh, Chief Executive, Private Equity Foundation, said: "This report has highlighted the great disparity in opportunities for young people across Great Britain. The fact that nearly a quarter of 16 to 24 year olds are disengaged from education or employment in certain cities is not only shocking but very sad. Children from deprived areas urgently need the right support to continue in school, go to college or to get a job. To neglect these NEETs, risks a crisis in too many of our communities”

Among the chief blackspots identified are cities such as Grimsby, Doncaster and Blackpool. Parts of London, such as Hackney and Newham, also have high rates of young people NEET.

Of those cities with relatively low levels of NEETs, Oxford, Aberdeen and York come out as the best performers, with cities such as Portsmouth and Plymouth also coming performing well.

NEET blackspots face major social problems unless action is taken at local and national levels to tackle the issue. The report recommends that local government focuses on the better coordination of services at a local level, ensuring clear pathways between school, education and the world of work. It also calls on the government to ensure better data is made available to analyse the extent of the problem.

The report appendix includes a ten point manifesto for action that the Private Equity Foundation uses to frame its work (see appendix 2).




Rank City NEET Rate

1. Grimsby Very High: Almost 25%

2. Doncaster Very High: Almost 25%

3. Warrington & Wigan Very High: Almost 25%

4. Blackpool High: Around 20%

5. Rochdale & Oldham High: Around 20%

6. Wirral & Ellesmere Port High: Around 20%

7. Birmingham High: Around 20%

8. Barnsley High: Around 20%

9. Swansea High: Around 20%

10. Newcastle High: Around 20%



Rank City NEET Rate

1. Oxford Very Low: Less than 10%

2. Aberdeen Very Low: Less than 10%

3. York  Very Low: Less than 10%

4. Plymouth Very Low: Less than 10%

5. Cambridge Very Low: Less than 10%

6. Guildford Low: Around 10%

7. Bristol Low: Around 10%

8. Luton & Watford Low: Around 10%

9. Southampton Low: Around 10%

10. Milton Keynes Low: Around 10%

Source: LFS 2009 / 2010

Appendix 2

The Private Equity Foundation has set out a manifesto for action. They have developed a ten point action plan for improving performance on tackling NEET issues at each level of the system by focussing on prevention and better coordination.

Strategy and direction:

1. Create better coordination: We need to coordinate policy and track progress. For example, a NEET taskforce could coordinate policy, bring together those who care about the issue and track progress.

2. Focus on prevention - targeting the most at risk: We need preventative resources allocated according to the level of NEET risk faced by each young person, as reflected in the recent proposals for the pupil premium.

3. Publish transparent information on performance: We need transparent and objective comparisons of performance that encourage each local authority to drive up performance to the level of the best.

Commissioning and funding:

4. Increase investment on NEET: We need a broader range of funding instruments to help address some of these problems.

5. Reform commissioning: We need improvements in commissioning through:


  • Better collaboration between local authorities and service providers
  • Greater focus on value by developing commissioning capabilities  
  • Creating local markets for NEET services 
  • Adopting standard processes to reduce administration

Delivery of services:

6. Grow the best provision: we need to create more networked commissioning and business support for the best providers.

7. Foster better links into employment: The school curriculum needs to prepare young people for the world of work through better links, high quality work experience and more routes into work e.g. apprenticeships. We need to make it easier for employers to engage with young people, particularly those most at risk of becoming NEET.

8. Support targeted case management for those most at risk: Many children face a challenging pathway through numerous services and interventions. An integrated case management approach is needed to improve coordination.


9. Improve information on local provision: We need to record standardised performance metrics, establish guidelines for setting benchmarks and advocate good practice locally.

10. Increase knowledge of what works: we need to establish an anonymous database of the cost effectiveness of intervention (as maintained by NICE in the healthcare sector) and publish standard guidelines on what data funders should track to encourage the analysis and dissemination of best practice.

Notes to editors


  1. Dr Neil Lee is available for interviews, briefings and written comment.
  2. Shaks Ghosh, Chief Executive of the Private Equity Foundation, is also available for interviews and briefings. Press opportunities are available at one of the Private Equity Foundation's initiatives focusing on 14 - 19 year olds in London schools. , Chief Executive of the Private Equity Foundation, is also available for interviews and briefings. Press opportunities are available at one of the Private Equity Foundation's initiatives focusing on 14 - 19 year olds in London schools.
  3. The report is being published to coincide with the launch of discussion around a film produced by Private Equity Foundation, called Luke's World
  4. A discussion panel on Luke's World is being held at 8am on Friday - Jon Snow is chairing alongside Tim Loughton, MP, Minister for Children, Simon Hughes MP, Lord Jim Knight, and Ken Loach. Further details available.
  5. The Work Foundation is the leading independent authority on work and its future. It aims to improve the quality of working life and the effectiveness of organisations by equipping leaders, policymakers and opinion-formers with evidence, advice, new thinking and networks. In October 2010, Lancaster University acquired The Work Foundation, forming a new alliance that will enable both organisations to further enhance their impact.
  6. The Private Equity Foundation (PEF) was set up in 2006 to support children and young people to reach their full potential. The private equity community's donations of money and pro-bono business expertise are working to create a safety net of support for children at home, through school, in the community and into the workplace. To date, the Private Equity Foundation has provided basic skills support and skills for work programmes for 42,000 children and young people through 18 charities.

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