Action to help drop-out Sheffield youths find employment

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AN ACTION plan has been drawn up by Sheffield Council to help jobless young people after officials found as many as one in eight 16 to 18-year-olds are not in employment, education or training.

The overall proportion of young people aged 16 to 18 classed as NEET in Sheffield is 9.6 per cent of about 23,000 - about 2,200 youngsters.

But the problem is much worse in the poorer areas, affecting 13.9 per cent of 16-18 year-olds in the north east and 13.7 per cent in the east of Sheffield.

Meanwhile, only 2.3 per cent of young people in south west Sheffield are NEETs, the council has found.

More than a third of the young people who have dropped out are deemed to be in one of several vulnerable groups - care leavers, teenage mothers, young offenders, youngsters with learning difficulties and disabilities, and ethnic minorities.

Sheffield Council has developed a plan, called The Sheffield Guarantee - Increasing Participation and Attainment, which was discussed at a meeting of the authority’s children and young people’s services scrutiny board - chaired by Coun Gill Furniss.

Officials aim to target both those young people who drop out immediately after leaving school and others who lose their jobs or end up leaving further education courses or work.

The council’s plan is being drawn-up as part of Government changes to ensure all 16-18 year-olds remain in education or work-based learning until at least 18, by 2015.

The Sheffield Guarantee proposes working with schools and providers of apprenticeships to develop ‘seamless but flexible’ plans for young people before they leave school, so they have a placement at 16.

Meanwhile, a ‘personalised’ approach is proposed for those young people who have dropped out of courses or jobs.

The council plan says: “It will be based around individual needs, to re-motivate and upskill young people’.

Sheffield Council says it plans to use Government and European Union funds available over the next year to work in the more deprived areas of Sheffield to ‘raise aspiration and skills’ among families where a culture of welfare-dependency is high.

Community youth teams would be set up to provide tailored support for ‘vulnerable’ youngsters.

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