Challenging us to change the future for young women

Tuesday 24 March 2015

We’ve reached the end of our Scarred for Life? Inquiry into young women NEET (not in education, employment or training) and it has been a huge privilege to be its Chair. Sian Williams

Before getting involved more than a year ago, I hadn’t realised the scale of the problems facing young women or the numbers involved - I suspect many people will feel the same when they read our report. It’s called Creating a Working Future for Young Women and I hope it marks a turning point.

The evidence we gathered is overwhelming. Hundreds of thousands of young women are not earning or learning – there are many more female NEETs than male and the impact on them is much deeper. Many struggle to find work or end up in a series of insecure and poorly paid jobs.

We’ve heard from too many young women who say they're being written off at 18 instead of being allowed to contribute fully to society.They tell us they want to find a way back to education and work, they just need a second chance, more flexibility and more support. 

Yet successive governments have failed to alter the stark statistics - over the last decade, an average of more than 130,000 more young women than young men, have been NEE. We need to address the reasons why and encourage a gender-specific approach which is better tailored to their needs. 

This is a long-standing and complex problem. It will not be solved overnight but there are steps that can be taken now which would begin to improve the situation. Creating a Working Future for Young Women
 provides recommendations, including extending access to careers advice and Further Education and also making apprenticeships a genuine option by removing formal entry criteria.

Thousands of young women want to contribute, yet are seeing their enthusiasm and talents being wasted. This Inquiry challenges all of us to change that - for them, for society and for future generations.