Stark contrast in education and employment opportunities for young people in the South East, new report shows

A new Youth Opportunity Index, published today by Learning and Work Institute, shows young people in the South East have varying chances of success depending on where they live.

The region offers contrasting opportunities for young people with local authority areas appearing at both the top and bottom of the charts.

The best performing areas, Buckingham and Slough, are rated at number two and five respectively, in the overall Index which ranks all 150 local authority areas in England. The region also scores well on GCSE equivalent attainment, with 16 of its 19 local authorities coming in the top 100 for this measure.

However, there are areas for concern. Four areas in the region rank relatively low for education and employment opportunities: Southampton (146), Brighton and Hove (142), Portsmouth (140) and the Isle of Wight (137). Each have low rankings across all the measures in the Index, with the Isle of Wight and Portsmouth seeing some of the lowest scores for GCSE and attainment at A Level or equivalent. The region also generally scores low for apprenticeship take-up.

There is also a mixed picture of youth opportunities in some areas of the region. For example, while Wokingham is 14th in the overall Index and third in the region, it is 106th for employment opportunities. Meanwhile, West Berkshire has the best youth employment rates in the country, scoring first place in the overall Index. However, its lower rank in net underemployment (142) suggests that many young people would like to work more hours and may not earn enough to make ends meet.

Stephen Evans, chief executive, Learning and Work Institute said:
“Our new Youth Opportunity Index shows that young people’s life chances are directly affected by where they live. This is a basic unfairness and this new report shows where efforts need to be focused.

“The Index shows how education and employment outcomes vary across the country and identifies the key opportunity gaps. We hope that it will help local authorities and others to prioritise their focus and target their policy efforts to ensure all young people get a good start and fair chance in life.”