The excellent recent government report on Engaging for Success must seem a thoroughly sick joke to thousands of unemployed and university-denied young people in the UK.
It’s as if we are living in two parallel universes, one where people talk intensely about the value of engagement and its effect on company performance, and another where countless young people see little hope of a job, let alone the luxury of engagement.
The MacLeod report early on mentions that it is about Unlocking People’s Potential, but it is mainly referring to those in work rather than those seeking it.
Economists are good at coming up with fancy measures and indices to show what is happening in society but the true cost of the wasted potential we are now witnessing is likely to resist a convincing metric for a while yet. What price do you put on the lost potential of a young person leaving school with only the prospect of joining an acronym?
NEETS as they are conveniently labelled are people who are not in employment education or training. How can we allow this to happen? How is it possible that while a sickeningly endless flow of state money props up failed financial institutions there is a single school leaver left in limbo?
Record numbers of young people are now not in education, work or training. One in six adults aged 18 to 24 in England are so-called “neets” and this amounts to 835,000 – 100,000 more than this time last year. The proportion of neets rose to 17.6% of 18- to 24-year-olds, from 15.5% for the same period last year.
Action Aid famously showed the power of concentrating help on a specific named individual and built an effective delivery of help based on it. Why not do the same with a selection of our young people who cannot find a job, or education or training?
How about attaching to each Minister of the Crown, every publicly known senior civil servant, every high profile banker, every so-called captain of industry the specific name and background of a real young person who is currently left in the NEET limbo?
The pairings could be published in the media and on web sites and the relatives, friends and others interested in helping could keep contacting the high profile person to ask, and keep on asking what they are doing about their allocated person.
True this would only scratch the surface of the problem, but by personalising it with specific key influencers in our society the dreadful waste of potential would stop being a statistic and become a real person.