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£40 billion prize if UK improves youth employment, education and training

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The UK could boost GDP by around £40 billion a year in the long run if it reduces the number of young people not in education, employment or training (NEET) to match Germany, the best performing EU country. Despite making improvements in recent years, the UK only ranks 19th out of 35 countries across the OECD on a PwC index based on a range of indicators of youth employment, education and training. But this is slightly better than the UK’s ranking of 21st across the OECD on a similar PwC index for older workers released earlier this year.

Across England NEET rates vary significantly, reflecting the disparity in educational attainment and job opportunities across the country. In 2017, the West Midlands had the highest NEET rate for 19-24 year olds at 16.7%, followed by the North East by 16.3%. Meanwhile the South East and South West have the lowest rates, both at 11.5% (see table below).

NEET rates across England

Region

NEET rate for 19-24 year olds (2017)

NEET rate for 19-24 year olds (2016)

North East

16.3%

20.5%

North West

12.7%

14.9%

Yorks & Humber

15.8%

16.4%

East Midlands

13.3%

14.5%

West Midlands

16.7%

16.4%

East of England

14.4%

14.3%

London

12.1%

13.1%

South East

11.5%

11.5%

South West

11.5%

12.5%

Source: PwC calculation of annual averages for 2016 and 2017 based on ONS Labour Force Survey data

John Hawksworth, chief economist at PwC UK, comments: “There are wide disparities in the outcomes and opportunities for young people across the country. Differences in education quality and attainment play a large role in the success of getting people into jobs, education or training. Continued government work is needed in order to improve outcomes for disadvantaged youth and to boost social mobility, but business also has a role to play.

“Employers need to work with universities, schools and other educational providers to ensure young people have the skills they need for the age of automation. They also need to help in retraining older workers to adapt to these new technologies. This is not just about improving digital skills, but also developing the kind of creative and human skills that machines find it hard to replicate.”




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