Wake up calls help Neet generation

Ministers are to pay private companies to wake teenagers in a drive to get more youngsters back to college or work.

The initiative is part of Nick Clegg's £126 million Youth Contract to tackle the record number of England's 16 and 17-year-olds not in education, employment or training - the so-called "Neet" generation.

One scheme in the North East, run by Pertemps People Development Group, will see wake-up calls offered "to help young people develop a routine". Another, in Yorkshire, will see ex-soldiers deliver motivational sessions to disengaged youngsters through the Heroes to Inspire campaign.

The Deputy Prime Minister has revealed more details about the scheme, which will see charities and businesses paid by results and up to 55,000 youngsters return to college or find jobs.

Organisations can receive up to £2,200 for every child helped, but the full amount will only be paid if a young person is still in full-time education, training or work six months later.

Mr Clegg said: "Young people who have fallen through the net need tailored support to get back on track. We can't treat them like round pegs being forced into square holes - if you're young and have got to the point where you feel on the scrapheap, you need extra help to succeed in life.

"Disengaged young people often have complex problems that act as a barrier to getting them learning again, which the Government alone can't deal with. But very often local charities and businesses know what's going to help them."

Mr Clegg said organisations chosen to provide help should "be as creative and innovative as they can, to do whatever it takes, to get the young people who need it most back on their feet".

The three-year programme will focus on 16 to 17-year-old Neets with no A* to C GCSEs who are at the highest risk of long-term disengagement.

Other schemes will involve helping youngsters create CVs, improve their social skills and providing them with work experience. A project in the North West will see teenagers encouraged to take part in voluntary community work with charities including Barnardo's, the Prince's Trust, YMCA Training and the Children's Society. And in eastern England young people will be given advice on how to pay debts, claim benefits and find housing.