The Shadow Minister for Education, Rushanara Ali, has praised the work of Street League and called for more support for Third Sector organisations which provide alternative transitions from education to employment.

The MP for Bethnal Green and Bow was speaking after Ofsted, the regulatory body for schools and children’s services, warned that many formal education programmes are not matching the needs of learners – particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds. Read the report here.

Street League is the national charity which provides a unique football and education ‘Academy’ programme for 16 to 25-year-olds who are facing the biggest barriers to work. Participants also undergo work placements with corporate partners in order to prepare them for the world of work.

Ms Ali said: “Although unemployment has gone down overall, youth unemployment and the number of young people who are not in any form of training, remains stubbornly high. This is really worrying, and it shows that the current provisions are not working.

PARTNERSHIPS

“We have to look at how we improve careers advice, guidance and support, including work placements and entitlements – starting early in schools, and enabling them to build strong partnerships with employers. Many do already, but we must also work with local organisations and charities which have built up expertise around employability  and are helping build up young people’s aspirations, ambitions and practical skills – like Street League is doing.

“Getting young people who are disengaged from the education system and involving them through sport is a fantastic way to get them learning and training, in order for them to create opportunities for themselves. I think we need to be imaginative about what works for young people and work closely with the not-for-profit sector, as well as making sure that the Government’s programmes and formulae are fit for purpose. This is what is missing at the moment.”

Ms Ali was welcomed to Street League by the charity’s Chief Executive, Matt Stevenson-Dodd, before spending time with a group of past and present Street League participants in north London.

She said: “I was really impressed by the young people I met today, ranging from their sports skills to the way they shared their experiences within the education system, and how Street League has helped them.

“I am very interested in how employers can support the work that Street League, and other charities in the field of employability, are doing. How can we get more access to mentors, get more facilities, more work placements and create a pipeline so that young people can get a taste of the world of work from an early age – so we are opening up their horizons and they have a better chance of getting a job when they start applying for them.”

EXPERIENCE

Ms Ali was speaking in the wake of a new Ofsted report which warned that too many young people drop out of sixth-form or college and are not being given the chances that will help them in future.

It claimed that high numbers of youngsters are “not well served” by their courses, and it is “simply not enough” to keep teenagers in education until 18 if they fail to leave with adequate qualifications and experience.

This has led to fears that despite the improving economy, the issue of young people being ‘NEET’ (Not in Employment, Education or Training) is not being properly addressed.

Ofsted chief inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw said: “The gap between the good intentions of Government policy in relation to this age group and the reality of what is happening on the ground is worryingly wide.

“The simple truth of what's happening at the moment is that too many of our young people, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds and those who want to follow vocational pathways, are not yet being well served by these programmes.”