The recession is already damaging the hopes of thousands of young people in Birmingham who are struggling to find a job.
At The Prince’s Trust, we’re becoming increasingly worried about young people in schools, who are next in line.
Recent statistics released by The Prince’s Trust and the Times Educational Supplement (TES) show that a worrying eight out of 10 secondary school teachers in the Midlands (82 per cent) are “increasingly worried” their pupils will end up on benefits, while more than two fifths (44 per cent) feel their efforts are “in vain”, due to rising levels of unemployment.
Here in Birmingham, an additional concern is the number of pupils that are persistently absent from school. Recent figures show that more than 10,700 pupils in Birmingham (seven per cent) are regular absentees. The government has estimated that persistent absentees in England missed around one month of school each in the past year. We know that teachers are doing all they can to support their students and it is more important than ever to work closely with them to support those who may be struggling.
All too often these young people fall out of the education system because they struggle to keep up and end up feeling that they can never achieve anything. There are thousands of young people that fall into this vicious circle and can end up feeling like they have “failed” in school, leaving with few qualifications and little confidence to help them find a job in the future. This can breed low self-esteem, feelings of worthlessness and sometimes even depression.
Too many young people feel that they can never break this cycle. We think they are wrong.
We cannot allow young people who are still at school, as well as the million young people who are struggling to find a job, become victims of this recession. With the right support, it is possible for pupils to achieve their ambitions, rather than becoming a “lost generation”.
Worryingly, The Trust’s research also shows that teachers across the Midlands are witnessing increasing numbers of pupils coming into school hungry, dirty and struggling to concentrate with almost half (47 per cent) regularly witnessing pupils coming into school suffering from malnutrition or showing signs that they haven’t eaten enough.