£3.5m. Euro cash to help NEETs - young people who slip through net

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LOCAL initiatives to reduce the number of young people who are already, or at risk of becoming, “neets” – not in education, employment or training – have received a huge financial boost.

Lancashire County Council has secured £3.5m. in extra funding from the European Social Fund through the Skills Funding Agency and Young People’s Learning Agency.

It will be targeted at young people aged 14 to 18 who are not in employment, education or training, across all 12 districts in Lancashire. For disabled people or those with learning difficulties, the upper age limit is 24.

Working with agencies from further education, work-based learning providers, voluntary and community groups, Lancashire County Council will use the funding to improve young people’s education and employment prospects along with their personal skills. It will also help young people to move on to work or further learning or training.

The process of providing more than 1,600 young people with support is already under way. While on the programme, the young people can expect to receive:

One-to-one mentoring, assessment and information

Advice and guidance sessions to identify problems with learning or work

An individual programme of support and training

Literacy, numeracy and ICT skills that will build competence

Work experience and “job sampling” with interviews and career planning support

Support on personal budgeting, drug and alcohol awareness, and healthy living.

Lancashire County Council’s cabinet member for young people, County Coun. Mark Perks, said: “I am delighted the county council and organisations we work closely with on this have been awarded this additional funding. Tackling the problem of young people who, for whatever reason, don’t go onto college or find a job is one of our highest priorities.

“If we can identify early those young people who are showing signs of being disaffected at school, then hopefully we can minimise the risk of them not receiving an education or training and doing nothing once they leave.”