Press release

Thousands more school leavers staying in education or training

New figures reveal more young people are gaining knowledge and skills demanded by employers.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Students looking at a computer

Skills Minister Nick Boles has welcomed figures that reveal thousands more school leavers are staying in education or training after the age of 16.

Previously, young people too often left school without the knowledge, training or experience demanded by employers and universities. But now the rules have been changed so that they have to remain in education or training beyond the age of 16, with today’s (2 October 2014) figures demonstrating the real impact this is having for thousands of people across the country.

This comes after figures published over the summer show the number of 16- to 18-year-olds not in education, employment, or training (NEET) is at its lowest recorded level. 91,000 fewer 16- to 18-year-olds are now NEET, compared to 2009’s peak level.

The data released today shows that for 16- and 17-year-olds in June 2014:

  • 1,033,732 were in education or training, a rise of more than 6,000 young people since the previous year

  • more than 9 out of every 10 of last year’s school leavers (16-year-olds) stayed on in education or training for a further year

  • the proportion of young people in education and training has increased in more than two-thirds of local authority areas compared to last year.

The statistics also reveal that every region in England saw a rise in the proportion of young people continuing in education or training. This includes rises of more than 5,000 in London, more than 4,800 in the south east and almost 3,000 in the east Midlands.

Skills Minister Nick Boles said:

Our plan for education is delivering the knowledge and skills that are vital to thrive in modern Britain. And today’s figures show this is working, with thousands more school leavers continuing in education or training after the age of 16.

Whether through further schooling, college, apprenticeships or other training, more young people are gaining the skills needed to realise their aspirations.

Further data published over the summer confirms the level of 16- to 18-year-olds NEET is at a record low, showing we are giving more young people than ever before the best possible start to life.

This is the first year the government changed the law so that young people are required to stay in education or training for a further year after they leave school at age 16. The figures show that this is having a real effect: 542,888 16-year-olds were in education or training - a rise of more than 16,000 from last year. This equates to 93.1% participating - a rise of 1.3 percentage points since last year.

The government is committed to helping young people across England to pursue high-quality careers. To help achieve this, local authorities are required to track their participation in education, employment and training.

To help this further, the government has put in place a comprehensive programme of reforms, both pre- and post-16, designed to improve the quality of education and to support more young people to participate. This includes:

  • introducing a rigorous new curriculum and world-class qualifications, ensuring proper preparation for further and higher education and work

  • ensuring that young people who have not achieved at least a C in GCSE English or maths must continue studying those subjects as part of their further education

  • removing low-quality vocational qualifications from league tables in favour of courses proven to deliver the skills employers demand

  • a new programme of traineeships to help those aged 16 to 24 to develop the skills and vital experience they need to secure apprenticeships and other sustainable jobs

Notes to editors

View ‘Participation in education and training by local authority’.

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Published 2 October 2014