Giving Neets a Chance
Neets, youngsters (16-to-24-year-olds) not in education, employment or training, remains alarmingly high at 15.1% over January – March 2013. (Office for National Statistics figures, May 2013). At one in five, the unemployment rate for 16-24-year-olds is more than double the rate in the working population of all ages.
This inevitably has a knock-on effect to society at large – financially and socially. In a recent survey by the UCU Lecturers’ Union it was revealed that a third of Neets had experienced depression and more than a third rarely left the house, with 36% holding the belief that they will never have a chance of getting a job and 40% feeling that they are not part of society. The high number of Neets not knowing what to do with their lives goes beyond the UK, it is an international problem and the International Monetary Fund has warned that in some countries with very high levels of youth unemployment it represents a threat to social and political stability.
These figures combined with the recent fall in A to C grades at GCSE level this summer is a cause for major concern for the UK’s young adults and their future prospects. In response to the problem the government is funding a place in education or training for every 16 and 17 year old who wants one, raising the participation age to 18, and investing in quality traineeships and apprenticeships.
In the fashion sector ASOS in association with Jenny Holloway of fashioncapital.co.uk / Fashion Enter, who runs The Factory have set up ‘The Stitching Academy’ which provides a route into a National Apprenticeship that previously did not exist in fashion for young people. At The Stitching Academy 120 young people will have the opportunity to complete a Level 1 qualification in Stitching Skills after completing a six-week internship, throughout which their daily expenses will be covered.
The Stitching Academy – the very first recruits
The Level 1 qualification is an extension of the UK’s first ever National Apprenticeship – Level 3 & 4 – in the Fashion and Textiles Apparel scheme (launched in 2011 – ASOS and fashioncapital.co.uk / Fashion Enter). Key skills the young trainees gain include: Sewing & Stitching, Machinery Operation, Inspecting & Measuring and Health & Safety.
The initiative has been funded by the ASOS Foundation, a registered charity, supplying all the technical equipment and machinery with matching teaching cost contributions from Haringey Council. Additional support and grant funding comes courtesy of the Department of Work & Pensions via Jobcentre Plus with the long term goal to integrate young adults into the growing British manufacturing sector. At least forty young people will continue further to gain employment, further education or apprenticeships. The Stitching Academy provides a start and will hopefully develop along with the growth of the ‘Made in Britain’ manufacturing industry.