'Scarred for Life?' Inquiry launch

Wednesday 30 April 2014

A few months ago I was approached by the Young Women’s Trust and asked if I would chair an Inquiry into the challenges faced by young women who, to use the jargon, are NEET (Not in Employment, Education or Training). I was shocked to hear that more than half a million young women are now NEET, a figure that has remained broadly unchanged for some time and I was reminded of the long term and serious consequences being NEET can have on the rest of a woman’s life.

I was also surprised that more women than men aged between 18-24 are NEET. I thought, like others perhaps, that being NEET was something that tended to happen to young men.

Yes the figures are shocking, but perhaps I should not have been surprised. I have a friend who struggled at school and left with very few qualifications. She tried hard to find work and took a series of temporary, low paid and part time roles. In her early twenties, she found herself alone and no family able to help her. She was anxious and knew she was facing a very uncertain future. She continued to take the same sorts of jobs, never feeling as though she was progressing. Confused about benefit entitlements, she let official letters pile up, unread, until one day there was threatened with eviction from her home. She felt trapped, isolated, lonely and scared.

Her story is similar to those heard many, many times by Young Women’s Trust. That’s why I agreed to chair the inquiry which is launched this week. The Inquiry is called ‘Scarred for Life?’ - and it’s going to explore what needs to be done to reduce the numbers of young women who are NEET, reduce the length of time they are there and crucially, reduce the impact being NEET has, on the rest of their lives.

We need to find the right solutions urgently, so all young women can access opportunities to secure their futures.