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14/6/2012 - County council agrees post-16 education and training overhaul

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Plans to boost young people's qualifications and employment opportunities were today approved by Cumbria County Council's Cabinet.

The Education and Skills Act 2008 set out that from 2015, all young people will be required to participate in education or training until their 18th Birthday.

This change is happening in two phases: from summer 2013 all young people will be required to participate in education or training until the end of the academic year in which they turn 17, and from summer 2015 onwards they are required to participate in education or training until their 18th birthday. 

Raising the Participation Age (RPA) does not necessarily mean that young people have to stay at school. They will be able to participate through three routes:

  • Full-time education - whether at a school, college or otherwise.
    An apprenticeship.
  • Working full-time (for 20 hours or over per week and for at least eight weeks) and undertaking part-time
  • study alongside (for the equivalent of a day a week).

Children's Services will be responsible for delivering the programme through its existing partnership arrangements with schools, employers and other bodies.

To ensure Cumbria is ready to meet the challenges of RPA, the county council has been working in partnership with Inspira (formerly Connexions) to put in place plans for delivering the new provision.

Raising of the Participation Age by 2015 will be challenging as unemployment in Cumbria is relatively low but the number of young people in jobs without recognised training is relatively high.

Latest data indicates participation in post-16 training or education to be in excess of 15,500 young people with 33 per cent in schools sixth forms, 41 per cent in further education and 26 per cent in apprenticeships.

Figures also suggest there are just over 800 young people not in education, employment or training (NEET) in Cumbria and around 900 young people in jobs without training.

Councillor Duncan Fairbairn, Cumbria County Council's cabinet member for schools and learning, said: "Young people continuing in post-16 learning or training are more likely to gain higher levels of qualifications and have increased earning power over their lifetime this is great news for the economy both locally and nationally.

"Raising the Participation Age will have a positive impact on equality across the county as it will make high quality and appropriate learning and employment pathways available to all young people in Cumbria to age 18."


Media enquiries to communications adviser Kate Stark on 01228 226603