School-leavers missing out on training despite Government guarantees on opportunities
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Hundreds of teenagers in North Somerset are missing out on education or training after leaving school, despite Government guarantees.
Further education leaders have claimed this is due to Government funding running out for apprenticeships.
Since 2014, local authorities have been required to find an education or training place for all 16 and 17-year-olds after they finish their GCSEs.
This can include studying A-levels, starting an apprenticeship or work combined with training.
Department for Education (DfE) figures show that in 2018, North Somerset Council gave 91 per cent of its 4,410 school leavers suitable offers of education or training.
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That leaves 384 teenagers who could be missing out.
Of those, for 40 the offer was not considered appropriate, usually due to personal circumstances, and 44 received no offer.
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A further 300 teenagers did not have their situation recorded, possibly because they were not contacted by the local authority, or they moved address.
Association of Employment and Learning Providers chief executive Mark Dawe said it was ‘scandalous’ that the Government cannot guarantee to fund any more apprenticeships for school leavers.
He said: “The DfE’s most senior civil servant told a House of Commons committee the big issue is that the apprenticeship levy is running out of cash and that hard choices have to be made.
“But the easiest choice is to safeguard apprenticeships for the youngest, many of whom come from disadvantaged backgrounds.”
A lower proportion of 16 and 17-year-olds were made offers by North Somerset Council last year than in 2017, when 92 per cent received a suitable training or education place.
North Somerset handed out fewer places than councils across the South West, where 91.6 per cent of pupils received a suitable offer.
Across the region, almost 9,000 teenagers could have missed out on education or training in 2018.
A DfE spokeswoman said: “This year’s September Guarantee data showed that almost 95 per cent of 16 and 17-year-olds in England received a suitable offer in 2018.
“A teenager which does not receive an offer will not always be missing education or training.