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450,000 NEETs have never worked

Half of all NEETs in England have never had a regular job, a new report demonstrates, and face a ‘catch-22’ trying to gain experience of work.

Published by the Work Foundation and the Private Equity Foundation, ‘Lost in

Transition’ highlights the rise in 16-24 year olds either taking much longer, or being unable to make the first move from education to work.

The report suggests long term changes in the skills required for first jobs – caused by a shift from a production to a service-driven economy – have made ‘soft skills’ more important, while the education system has not adapted to reflect these changes.

Over 450,000 NEETs in England have no experience of sustained paid employment beyond causal and holiday work, researched showed.

The foundations have urged Government to provide continuous support for young people making this transition as well as clearer pathways into the labour market for those who have already fallen through the gaps.

Report author Dr Paul Sissons said: “The labour market has changed considerably over the past few decades. First jobs are now less likely to be in manufacturing and more likely to be in the service sector where skills such as communication, team working and customer service are important. For young people without the soft skills needed to access work in these growing sectors, finding employment has become increasingly difficult.

“A period of worklessness while young can detrimentally impact peoples’ careers over the longer-term.”

Shaks Ghosh, chief executive of the Private Equity Foundation, said: “We know that if young people haven’t got on to the first rung of the job ladder by 24, they will suffer the consequences for the rest of their lives. Some will never work. That’s why this research is so shocking. Many NEET young people face a Catch-22: they don’t have the so-called ‘soft skills’ employers are looking for, but often the only opportunity to learn those skills is on the job.” 

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