There are still more than a million young people not in education, employment or training (Neet) in England, despite a dip in the numbers.
Some 17% of 16 to 24-year-olds were without jobs or college places in the three months to September 2012, according to official data. This is down 136,000 or two percentage points on last year.
The government welcomed the fall but said the numbers remained too high.The figures, from the Department for Education (DfE), for those over school age (19- to 24-year olds) are down on 2011 but higher than they were two years ago.
They show that over-18s are worst affected – with almost a fifth of 19-24-year-olds (19.6%) classified as Neet this summer.
This figure is down from 21.5% last year but up from 18.6% in summer 2010.
A DfE spokesman welcomed the fall in numbers compared with the same time last year but added: “There is no room for complacency as the number of young people who are Neet is still too high. We will continue to tackle this.
“We are spending a record £7.5bn on education and training for 16- to 19-year-olds. We are also spending over £3.8bn on adult further education, with an increased focus on young people and the unemployed.
“Our Youth Contract is also providing a range of extra targeted support for 16- and 24-year-olds who are Neet to help get them back on track.”
The DfE spokesman said the numbers of Neets had dropped despite the cutting in 2011 of Education Maintenance Allowance payments to 16- to 19-year old students from low-income households in England. It is still paid in the rest of the UK.