Red tape is hold­ing our youngsters back

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - Clubs Round-up - by Paul Fran­cis pfran­cis@thek­m­group.co.uk

po­lit­i­cal ed­i­tor A DRIVE to cut the num­ber of young peo­ple who are out of work and who have left school without tak­ing up train­ing is be­ing held back by Gov­ern­ment red tape, ac­cord­ing to the leader of Kent County Coun­cil.

Cllr Paul Carter (Con) said that while the coun­cil’s pro­gramme to de­velop vo­ca­tional ed­u­ca­tion and in­crease ap­pren­tice­ships was prov­ing a suc­cess, it could work even bet­ter if Kent con­trolled the fund­ing. As things stood, too many had “dis­ap­peared from the world of learn­ing.”

At the mo­ment, fund­ing for post-16 ed­u­ca­tion is man­aged by a quango, the Learn­ing and Skills Coun­cil (LSC). That is be­ing scrapped but will be re­placed by other quan­gos.

Cllr Carter, who was speak­ing at a fringe meet­ing at the Con­ser­va­tive party con­fer­ence in Birm­ing­ham to show­case KCC’s strat­egy, said: “The fund­ing mech­a­nism through the Learn­ing and Skills Coun­cil is not meet­ing the needs of young peo­ple or meet­ing the needs of the Kent econ­omy.

“We could make a much bet­ter fist of spending the money wisely.”

While Kent has seen the num­ber of so-called Neets, 16to-18-year-olds not in ed­u­ca­tion, em­ploy­ment or train­ing, drop by more than 600 in the last two years, Cllr Carter said more needed to be done.

“There are far too many peo­ple who have dis­ap­peared from the world of learn­ing and who be­come bored, feck­less and re­turn to crime. If we can get in early and de­liver change, there will be a whole range of ben­e­fits.”

He said that where schools had de­vel­oped vo­ca­tional cour­ses for pupils, such as in Whit­stable and Maid­stone, the im­pact had been dra­matic.

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