Increasing opportunities for young people and helping them to achieve their potential


We want to increase the quality of education for young people so that they are well prepared for further education, higher education and work. We want to make sure that there are high quality options for young people to undertake both academic and vocational education, including apprenticeships and traineeships.

More broadly, we want young people to be responsible citizens who are willing to help others in their community. We believe that they should all have access to wider opportunities that help them to remain engaged, realise their potential and actively participate in the decisions that affect them.

Together, this will help to ensure that more young people go on to study and gain the skills and qualifications that lead to sustainable jobs and fewer are not in education, employment or training (NEET).


Improving education

To improve the quality of education available to young people at school, we will:

This will help more young people to reach the age of 16 well qualified and prepared for further and higher education and for work.

We also want to improve the quality of what young people study after the of 16. For 16- to 19-year-olds, we will:

Supporting more young people to study

Improving the quality of education will help to make study more attractive to young people. We will:

  • raise the participation age in 2013 and 2015, requiring young people to remain in some form of education or training until their 18th birthday
  • make sure that young people have the information they need to make good choices by extending the duty on schools and colleges to secure independent, impartial careers guidance
  • provide targeted financial support to young people who need it through the £180 million 16 to 19 bursary fund
  • support 16- to 17-year-olds who are not in education, employment or training (NEET) and have few qualifications to move into education or training through the Youth Contract

Providing wider opportunities

To increase opportunities for young people, we will:


Supporting more young people to study

In November 2011, we announced the Youth Contract, which included a new programme of support in England in 2012 to 2015 to help 16- to 17-year-olds who are NEET.

The programme aims to help 16- to 17-year-olds who:

  • have one or no GCSEs at A* to C
  • are or have been in care
  • are young offenders and have been released from custody

Successful providers across the country are offering support to young people who meet these criteria to move into education, an apprenticeship or work with training. The government will pay them on the basis of the results they achieve to ensure good value for money.

Providing wider opportunities

On 9 March 2011, the Department for Education and the National Council for Voluntary Youth Services hosted a Positive for Youth summit to discuss the issues facing young people. The summit brought together government ministers, representatives from the voluntary youth sector, local authority officials, the private sector and young people themselves.

In February 2012, we published ‘Positive for Youth: a new approach to cross-government policy for young people aged 13 to 19’, aimed at providers and funders of services for young people. It contains comprehensive detail on all the government’s policies for 13- to 19-year-olds.

Who we’ve consulted

The ‘Positive for Youth’ consultation sought the views of young people, businesses, representatives from the voluntary youth sector and local authorities. The consultation ran from June to September 2011.

We ran the ‘Consultation on the raising the participation age regulations’ from 20 January to 13 April 2012. We invited the views of schools, employers, local authorities, work-based learning providers and others and we received 176 responses.

Bills and legislation

The duties for raising the participation age are included in the Education and Skills Act 2008.

Who we’re working with

The British Youth Council is delivering the Youth Voice programme.

The following charities and businesses are delivering the Youth Contract programme in England:

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