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More young people than ever struggling to move from education into work

New study finds that nearly half of NEETs in England now have no experience of sustained paid employ

The past decade has seen a major rise in young people aged 16 - 24 who are either unable, or taking longer, to make the first move from education into work due to shortage of required skills, according to a new report from The Work Foundation and Private Equity Foundation.

The report, titled Lost in Transition? The changing labour market and young people not in employment, education or training, found that the proportion of NEETs (not in education, employment or training) aged 16-24 without paid work experience has risen from 41 per cent in 2001 to 48 per cent in 2007 and 2011.

Report author Paul Sissons said:

The labour market has changed considerably over the past few decades. First jobs are now less likely to be in manufacturing and more likely to be in the service sector where skills such as communication, team working and customer service are important. For young people without the soft skills needed to access work in these growing sectors, finding employment has become increasingly difficult.

Shaks Ghosh, chief executive of Private Equity Foundation, said:

We know that if young people haven’t got on to the first rung of the job ladder by 24, they will suffer the consequences for the rest of their lives. Some will never work. That’s why this research is so shocking. Many NEET young people face a Catch-22: they don’t have the so-called ‘soft skills’ employers are looking for, but often the only opportunity to learn those skills is on the job.

We need to ensure all our young people, irrespective of background, are connected to and prepared for today’s world of work before they leave school. They need personalised guidance, workplace mentors and introductions to business networks, as well as work experience which leads to paid employment.

The research finds that in England, nearly half of NEETs now have no experience of sustained paid employment beyond casual and holiday work. This represents over 450,000 young people who so far have been unable to make the transition from learning into employment.

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Is anyone prepared to solve the NHS funding crisis?

As long as the political taboo on raising taxes endures, the service will be in financial peril. 

It has long been clear that the NHS is in financial ill-health. But today's figures, conveniently delayed until after the Conservative conference, are still stunningly bad. The service ran a deficit of £930m between April and June (greater than the £820m recorded for the whole of the 2014/15 financial year) and is on course for a shortfall of at least £2bn this year - its worst position for a generation. 

Though often described as having been shielded from austerity, owing to its ring-fenced budget, the NHS is enduring the toughest spending settlement in its history. Since 1950, health spending has grown at an average annual rate of 4 per cent, but over the last parliament it rose by just 0.5 per cent. An ageing population, rising treatment costs and the social care crisis all mean that the NHS has to run merely to stand still. The Tories have pledged to provide £10bn more for the service but this still leaves £20bn of efficiency savings required. 

Speculation is now turning to whether George Osborne will provide an emergency injection of funds in the Autumn Statement on 25 November. But the long-term question is whether anyone is prepared to offer a sustainable solution to the crisis. Health experts argue that only a rise in general taxation (income tax, VAT, national insurance), patient charges or a hypothecated "health tax" will secure the future of a universal, high-quality service. But the political taboo against increasing taxes on all but the richest means no politician has ventured into this territory. Shadow health secretary Heidi Alexander has today called for the government to "find money urgently to get through the coming winter months". But the bigger question is whether, under Jeremy Corbyn, Labour is prepared to go beyond sticking-plaster solutions. 

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.