Leaving age rise is a ‘missed opportunity’

John Healey, MP
John Healey, MP
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Moves to raise the school leaving age which begin to come into force next month have been branded a ‘massive missed opportunity’ by South Yorkshire MP John Healey.

The age at which young people can leave education or training rises from 16 to 17 next month, before going up again to 18 in two years’ time.

But the MP for Wentworth and Dearne said potential gains from the changes would not be realised because of cuts to careers advice and financial support like the Education Maintenance Allowance.

The EMA, which paid grants to teenagers in education, was abolished by the coalition in 2010.

The former minister for skills said: “This is a historic change and a huge opportunity. A million young people have no job, long term youth unemployment has doubled in the last three years, and one third of 18-year-olds are not in any education or training.

“But this is set to become a massive missed opportunity. Two of the foundation stones for raising the education leaving age - that Labour laid when parliament passed the legislation - have been removed.

“Careers advice to help all young people make good choices about their future and financial support, so that no young person is excluded from education or training because of cost, have both been broken up by the Government.”