Education, employment and training for young people


Content last reviewed: 27 February 2017

Every year, hundreds of young people in Central Bedfordshire will access education, employment and training opportunities that will give them the skills to help improve their chances of longer term social and economic success. Their access has been strengthened by the expectation from government to participate in learning up till the age of 18. Understanding and responding to those who are unable to participate and become Not in Education, Employment or Training (NEET) remains a key challenge for local authorities and partners working with young people.

Between 2014 and 2015 the proportion of 16-18 year olds in education and work-based learning across the country increased by 0.5 percentage points to 81.6%.  This is the highest level since consistent records began in 1994. The largest in year increase was seen at age 17, up 1.2% to 87.8%. At age 16 the participation rate at the end of 2015 was 94.1% and at age 18 it was 63.8%.

The number of young people Not in Education, Employment or Training (NEET) across the country continues to fall. The proportion of 16-18 years who are NEET at the end of 2015 has fallen by 1.1 percentage point in the last year to 6.5%.  This is the lowest rate since consistent records began.  There have been falls in NEET at each individual age, with 18 year olds seeing the largest annual change, down 2.0 percentage points to 11.4%. The NEET rate at the end of 2015 was 3.1% at age 16 and 4.8% at age 17.

Source: National Statistics - Participation in education, training and employment: 2015. Department for Education

Information on the number of young people NEET in each local authority area is drawn from the client (CCIS) databases maintained by Local Authorities. Annual performance is based upon the 3-months of data November to January each year and is reported to the Department for Education (DfE).

For the period November 15 to January 16, Central Bedfordshire reported a NEET average of 3.1%, which was considerably lower than both the national (4.2%) and regional (4.2%) averages. A NEET average of 3.1% placed Central Bedfordshire in the top 25% (joint 32nd out of 152) of Local Authorities in 2015.

Source: Local Authority CCIS data, 2016 Local Authority NEET figures, DfE

In Central Bedfordshire, the drive to improve the participation of young people in Education, Employment and Training is a key objective in the local authority All Age Skills Strategy (2016-2020). The strategy has highlighted a number of related themes that impact on our participation agenda:

Our Economy

Three in ten Central Bedfordshire businesses report skill gaps within their existing workforce (29% in 2015; although an improvement on 37% in 2014) (1).  Poor quality staff is most frequently cited as a reason for skill gaps (17% of those with skill gaps), while lack of investment in staff training and development and insufficient time to train also feature relatively strongly (both cited by 12%). Employers in Central Bedfordshire are also more likely to report that young people (aged 17/18) are ‘poorly’ or ‘very poorly’ prepared for work (34% in Central Bedfordshire compared to 29% across England - 2013) (2).

Our Residents

Our unemployment rate currently stands at 3.3% (4,700 individuals) (3), having fallen by 1,100 people from December 2014, with 5.4% (9,270 individuals) claiming Main Out of Work Benefits in August 2015 (4). The area has seen a continuing fall in those claiming Job Seekers Allowance with 0.8% of the working population in March 2015. However, Employment Support Allowance/Incapacity Benefit claimant numbers remain stubbornly higher than other claimant groups, remaining at 3.6% from November 2014 to November 2015.

Our Employers

Around one in twenty businesses in Central Bedfordshire (6%) currently employ someone on an Apprenticeship programme. This proportion is slightly lower than the South East Midlands average (9%). Of those businesses that do not currently employ an apprentice, 41% would consider taking one on (5). The Apprenticeship Levy offers further incentives for employers to engage in this agenda.

The work to improve the participation of young people in EET must therefore be viewed in the context of wider work to ensure young people have the ‘right skills to be work ready’.



(1) Business Survey 2015, BMG Research Agency on behalf of Central Bedfordshire Council and  SEMLEP

(2) Business Survey 2015, BMG Research Agency on behalf of Central Bedfordshire Council and SEMLEP

(3) Annual Population Survey, NOMIS, April 2016

(4) DWP benefit claims, via NOMIS, February 2016

(5) Business Survey 2015, BMG Research Agency on behalf of Central Bedfordshire Council and SEMLEP

Last updated Friday, 27th January 2017