Poor IT infrastructure is being blamed for the fact that local authorities are struggling to keep track of teenagers after they leave education.
Skills Minister Matthew Hancock MP criticised 12 local authorities for failing to keep track of 16 to 18-year-olds with the Department for Education [DfE] revealing an alarming set of figures showing the amount in the areas not in education or training.
UKauthorITy.com reports the DfE ranked local authorities according to the percentage of unknown 16 and 17-year-olds in the area, with the 12 worst offenders as follows:
- Poole – 17.6 per cent
- Derby – 11.6 per cent
- Birmingham – 11.4 per cent
- Waltham Forest – 9.9 per cent
- Tower Hamlets – 8.3 per cent
- Hertfordshire – 7.6 per cent
- Derbyshire – 7.2 per cent
- South Gloucestershire – 7.1 per cent
- Lincolnshire – 6.4 per cent
- Shropshire – 5.1 per cent
- Gloucestershire – 3.5 per cent
- Stoke on Trent – 3.2 per cent
The study added that when 18-year-olds were taken into account the number grew with almost a third of teenagers in Poole classed as unknown. Second on the list, Derby, blamed IT upgrades for the numbers and this was something that was backed by Damien Greenhalgh, deputy cabinet minister for young people.
"There were some initial teething problems with the upgrades to the system, which meant we were not able to track what was happening, with complete accuracy, for a short period of time,” said Greenhalgh. "However we are confident now that the system failures have been rectified."
The government has been plagued by IT problems in recent times with a number of departments affected by failures to various systems. It was only last month that the National Audit Office [NAO] revealed that a plan to reform the welfare payments system, called Universal Credit, was “overly ambitious”. The IT portion of the project, where the failure lies, has already cost taxpayers as much as £34 million.