A recent study in the North of England showed that one in seven 16-24 year old 'NEETs' - those not in Education, Employment or Training - died within ten years of falling out of the system. Following this report Jon Coles, the director general of schools, said he was 'profoundly shocked'.
21 years ago I was NEET myself at 16 living in a poor community in the North of England. Opportunities were scarce and I had to teach myself new skills and then was lucky enough to find a small business that gave me an opportunity on the old Youth Training Scheme. This apprenticeship started my journey out of poverty.
My friends at the time were not so lucky. Going back to my school at 24, 8 years later, I found out that a number of my fresh-faced school friends, who also became NEET at 16, were in prison, on hard drugs or had in fact died. Even 21 years later the same systemic problems still exist.
With the recession set to get worse, more needs to be done to tackle this problem. Not just by government and charities - but by businesses. Business has what it takes to lift people out of poverty, just like a small business did for me 21 years ago.
Of course business can't do it alone - we have to work in partnership with government and charities - and the recent launch of the Future Jobs Fund in the UK is a good step forward in this direction, but only if the jobs created are in fact real jobs linked to growth and future income - otherwise it's a temporary fix.
Whitebox is getting involved in this area and will be driving apprenticeship and Welfare to Work programmes, both locally and globally, and we are looking for more small and medium-sized business, and government departments, who want to get involved in helping ensure our young people have a chance to live a productive life.
Please email us if you would like to work together.
This blog entry references article posted in the Daily Telegraph on 7th August 2009: