Unemployed young people to challenge politicians over education funding

By staff writers
23 Feb 2010

Young people who are not in education, employment and training – known as 'NEETS' – are to question politicians on their education policies at an event at Westminster tomorrow (24 February).

The event comes as ministers face calls to improve funding for further education to tackle poverty and social inequality.

The University and College Union (UCU), which represents academic and teaching staff, pointed out that people aged 16-24 with no qualifications are four times more likely be unemployed that those with an A-Level.

They warned that inequalities in access to education risk creating a “lost generation”.

The Union described the current system of further education funding as a “jungle” that is “a nightmare to negotiate”.

The UCU has organised the Westminster event to allow young people who are 'NEET' to question politicians themselves. The young people have already written to education spokespeople from the Labour, Conservative and Liberal Democrat parties.

Diane Johnson, 21, from Pontefract in West Yorkshire, explained that she had to drop out of college because her funding was delayed for two months.

“Politicians need to start listening or there will be more people facing the same obstacles as me,” she added.

“I have tried to get in to college many times, but my name is just put down on the waiting list,” said Shamayal Yakoob, 18, from Birmingham, “The colleges which do offer spaces are on the other side of the city and I cannot afford to pay the travel costs”.

They will be joined by young people from Bristol, Liverpool and London at the event.

After an analysis of over 200 local authorities, UCU say that on average, 11.5 per cent of 16-24 year-olds have no qualifications. But they add that the figure is as high as 25 per cent in parts of London and the West Midlands.

“The current funding streams for further education are a complete minefield,” said the UCU’s Sally Hunt, “It’s as if the system has been designed deliberately to put people off”.

[Ekk/1]

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