Despite being a statutory requirement, (even if LEAs and schools are without the resources, let alone the incentive to enforce it) latest figures show one in six 17-year olds, not in full-time education. As an alternative, a young person can take up employment with training, in other words some kind of apprenticeship, but only 6% of 17-year olds (and just 8% of those 18) start one of these, though the returns show a larger figure reporting themselves as ‘employed’.
Of those 16/17-year olds not in full-time education, 60% are either unemployed or ‘economically inactive’. Of course, some will have full time caring or family responsibilities, but even allowing for this, we’d still be left with an unemployment rate approaching twice that for the population as a whole – and one that’s also 10% higher than a year ago.
For those 16-17 in full-time learning, with different levels of enthusiasm, though far from being the ‘reluctant learners’ languishing in school when the leaving age was last raised in the 1970s – some 1.2 million, around 250 000 report some kind of paid work. But the employment rate of 16-17-year olds has virtually halved over the past two decades, because of the decline of the ‘Saturday job’, with many more searching for one.