In a briefing to the Committee for Employment and Learning inquiry into this issue Ms Lewsley said that it was the most vulnerable of young people who are at risk of being put in the category of ‘NEET’.
“Research clearly shows that young people with low or no qualifications, and who experience family disadvantage and poverty, are most at risk of this,” she said.
“There are also some groups of young people such as children with disabilities, those who have been in care and those who have been in contact with the youth justice system who are at greater risk of not being in employment, education or training.”
The Commissioner told committee members the consequences for this group of young people can be devastating.
“In Northern Ireland there are almost one in five of young people aged 16-24 years in this category. We know from UK research that these young people are twice as likely to feel depressed as their peers, and alarmingly 35% of these young people have felt suicidal at some point.”
Ms Lewsley said that the earlier help can be given, the better the chances there are to avoid the young person ending up not in employment, education or training.
“I hope the committee’s inquiry will be an important step in creating a Government strategy to support these young people. We are the only part of the UK without such a strategy.
“And I hope that when a strategy is finally published there is recognition that each Government department and not just the Department for Employment and Learning is involved.
“We can together acknowledge and tackle these issues to make sure that the support is given as early as possible to families, children and young people to reduce the number of young people labelled as NEET.”
You can read NICCY’s Written Briefing to the Committee here: