Today’s worrying figures are further proof that how catastrophic a mistake it was by the government to scrap the educational maintenance allowance (EMA). The increase in the Q4 figures for those not in employment,education or training (NEET) is in stark contrast to the steady decline that had been underway since the introduction of the EMA.
The below chart shows the impact the education maintenance allowance (EMA) had on those classed as ‘NEET’ after it was rolled out nationally in 2004 (the red dashes signifying its introduction).
The importance of Quarter 4 data is that it shows those teenagers who have not enrolled into further education after September of that year. Today’s data includes the total number of NEET young people in Oct-Dec 2011. And includes both new NEETs and people who have been NEET for some time.
What the below figure shows is that the steady upwards trend in 16-18 year old classed as NEET was checked by EMA and began a slow decline in the Q4 figures:
(Source: Data from the 2011 Labour Force Survey for Quarter 3 showing those not in education, employment or training.)
Although these NEET figures could also be influenced by a flagging economy, when combined with the October AOC survey that showed enrolment at 49% of colleges was down and last month’s unemployment figures showed an increase in 16-17 year old unemployment; today’s NEET figures are further indicative proof that scrapping EMA was the wrong decision.
The EMA was a tried and tested government scheme. It was recognised by a plethora of organisations, like the independent IFS, who argued that EMA help to get those classed as NEET into the work place. This is how the IFS described EMA:
“The EMA significantly increased participation rates in post-16 education among young adults who were eligible to receive it.
In particular, it increased the proportion of eligible 16-year-olds staying in education from 65 to 69 per cent, and increased the proportion of eligible 17-year-olds in education from 54 to 61 per cent.
The simple cost-benefit analysis mentioned above suggests that even taking into account the level of deadweight that was found, the costs of EMA are completely offset.”
Today’s sad news that the number of NEETs is up is further proof that scrapping the EMA was a massive mistake by this government. Previous Q4 figures have shown a steady decline in the number of NEETs and are indicative proof that EMA worked.
Youth unemployment and the number of NEETs is a ticking time bomb, but sadly this government is cutting the wrong wire. The EMA was a tried and tested scheme that worked. The government have replaced it with one that risks costing the tax payer more in the long run and does less for those who need it.