Local MP criticises government for lack of action over NEETs

Angry Stockton North MP, Alex Cunningham has accused the Tory led-government of sticking their collective heads in the sand and failing to support almost 1000 young people in the Stockton Borough who are not in education, employment or training (NEETS).

Alex asked the Minister for Further Education, Skills and Lifelong Learning John Hayes MP whether the Tory-led government would reverse the decision that made it no longer necessary for schools to provide vital work experience for their pupils given the one million young people unemployed nationally and the 897 NEETs in Stockton.

The Minister dodged the question preferring to talk about the 76% increase in the number of apprenticeships he claimed had been created in Alex’s Stockton North constituency. What he didn’t say was that the apprenticeships he referred to are predominantly for those aged 25 years and over.

These figures are in line with the national picture where the rate of increase in apprenticeships for 16-18 dropped to just 10% and the vast majority of the new ones the Government has created are in the age 25+ category. This massive growth in 25+ apprenticeships has increased concerns that training courses delivered under ‘Train to Gain’, axed by the Government in 2010, have merely been transferred into the apprenticeship programme and re-labelled rather than being recognised new apprenticeship places.

Alex said:  

“I wanted to know what the Government is doing for young people and was told what they were doing for the over 25s.  I have now put down a Parliamentary question asking for the specific number of apprenticeships for the different age groups in my constituency and throughout Teesside in the hope of exposing the truth.

“This misrepresentation of the facts by the Education minister is typical of a government sticking their head in the sand over the plight of youth unemployment. And once again it’s the North East which is suffering the most with 16% of 16-24 year olds in the region classed as NEETs at the end of 2011.

“Youth unemployment has now reached crisis levels and the Government should be ashamed that they chose to do absolutely nothing to get young people in jobs in the Budget, and are failing to ensure that apprenticeship numbers keep up with the demand from young people. We will be paying the price for years to come if we fail to act now on this scourge on our society.”