More 16 to 24 year-olds entering employment

The number of young people out of school, work and training has fallen, according to statistics published by the Department for Education.

Compared to the same period last year, the figure for 16 to 24 year-olds considered Neet (not in education, employment or training) has dropped 2.1% from 1,163,000 down to 1,027,000.

Those in the 16 to 18 age group witnessed the most significant drop in the number of people out of school or work, falling from 14% in the third quarter of last year to 11.3% now.

The findings were welcomed by the Government but it still admitted there was more to be done.

"There is no room for complacency as the number of young people who are Neet is still too high," said a spokesman. "We will continue to tackle this."

Unison, the public service union, agreed much more action was needed to prevent a "lost generation of young people".

However, Jon Richards, national secretary for education and children's services at the union, claimed it was the Government who had let a significant proportion of young people down.

He said that a tough jobs market or an unaffordable education was making it harder for people in this age group when they leave school.

Meanwhile, the University and College Union (UCU) stressed that although the fall was a step in the right direction, the fact that over one million young people remained without work or access to education and training was no cause for celebration.

Sally Hunt, UCU general secretary, echoed these sentiments.

"At a time when the job market is so tough, the Government's decision to hike university fees and remove grants for the poorest college students looks even more ill-advised," she said.

"We will be incredibly disappointed if politicians try to champion the minimal year-on-year drop in Neets as some sort of success.

"The fact remains that over one million young people are not earning or learning, and that is no cause for celebration."

Copyright Press Association 2012