YOUNG PEOPLE in Leeds are facing “basic unfairness” based on simply where they live - with the city behind two thirds of the rest of the country when it comes their chances at getting on in life.
A new Youth Opportunity Index has ranked Leeds 99th out of 150 Local Education Authority areas in England - with one being the best.
The Learning and Work Institute used seven measures, including apprenticeship take up, GCSE results, youth employment and NEET (not in education, employment or training) figures for 16 and 17 year-olds to rank each area.
In Yorkshire, Leeds came ahead of Wakefield at 110th place, and Hull at 149th, but was out-performed by North Yorkshire at 15th and East Riding at 21st.
The Leeds figures show it came 120th for A Level equivalent qualifications and 100th for the proportion of young people entering higher education, but fared much better in employment rates for 23 to 28 year-olds, ranked 50th.
While young people in Wakefield have the best employment opportunities in the region with the town placed at 16th, the town’s rankings for net underemployment and NEET are lower. This suggests that young people in Wakefield struggle to make successful transitions into further education and a need to make sure employment offers enough hours to make ends meet, the Institute said.
Chief executive Stephen Evans the index showed that young people’s life chances “are directly affected by where they live”.
He added: “This is a basic unfairness and this new report shows where efforts need to be focused.”
Leeds City Council’s director of children and families, Steve Walker, said the data ranked Leeds ahead of other comparable core cities such as Birmingham and Manchester, but that it still wanted to ensure young people were leaving school and college with “essential skills and qualifications to help them achieve their full potential in life”.
He added: “This year’s results at both A-level and GCSE levels show positive progress is being made across the city since the introduction of the new grading system and we are working hard to build on this success year on year.
“Our NEET figures are in line with the national average and we continue to work with partners to proactively support all young people to access positive pathways when they leave school in order to improve their outcomes and future economic wellbeing.
“Nationally, the numbers of apprenticeships are falling, however Leeds has seen only a 0.14 per cent reduction in starts compared to the 2.8 per cent reduction nationally. As an employer, the council has doubled the number of apprentices it employs and has in place a framework contract with training providers that will support further expansion.”