THE Government has this month set out its new strategy to raise the education participation age to 17 by 2013 and 18 by 2015.
It is seeking to drive down the numbers of young people who are not in education, employment or training.
In the Association of North East Councils’ 2006/07 manifesto, we committed ourselves to supporting efforts to raise participation rates in post-compulsory education within the North-East, including looking at our contribution to this as a major employer.
Local government in the North-East has a responsibility for ensuring the region is best positioned and equipped to identify and capitalise on opportunities for enhancing its economic prospects, competitiveness and vitality, as well as promoting the quality of life and social well-being of its citizens and communities.
In common with other regions of the country, there are thousands of young people in the North-East who are disengaged with the world of work, education and training.
However, compared with other regions, the North-East has a high number of people who are economically inactive. In some areas of the region, almost one in three streets have concentrations of economic inactivity compared
to just one in 40 streets in the South-East.
The historic problems relating to employability that affect some parts of the North-East make it even more imperative that we give maximum encouragement and support to our young people.
It is in all of our interests to inspire them, to raise their aspirations and encourage them to continue and succeed in their educational studies, or to help them to access the training or employment opportunities which are right for them.
The future economic and social wellbeing of the North-East will, to a major extent, be determined by this generation of young people’s educational and work-related achievements, and their desire to succeed.
The association’s manifesto also included a pledge to actively participate in, and support, initiatives and organisations that seek to motivate young people to think positively about their future and involve them in debate about their economic contribution. The Prince’s Trust is one such organisation.
The Trust was started by HRH The Prince of Wales in 1976 and works tirelessly to help disadvantaged young people to realise their potential. It works with 14-30 year-olds who have perhaps struggled at school, been in care, are long-term unemployed or have been in trouble with the law. It also seeks to promote citizenship
and respect, financial independence and practical skills, self-esteem and motivation, and community regeneration.
In the North-East, it supports almost 4,000 young people every year through personal development programmes and
help with business start-ups.
Later this month, the Prince’s Trust will be celebrating the most inspirational achievements and journeys made by these young people and the vital contribution its volunteers, staff, supporters and partner organisations make, at an awards ceremony to be held at the Hilton Newcastle Gateshead Hotel.
If we are to continue to change our region for the better, we must ensure that every encouragement is given to our young people to better themselves.