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We must support academic underachievers

Published 11/09/2013

AS the new academic year begins, it is worth us sparing a thought for this summer's school-leavers.

While many of Northern Ireland's young people would have been thrilled with their GCSE results, it is vital we don't forget those who did not get the grades that they hoped for.

New research by The Prince's Trust and HSBC has found that, in previous years, thousands of young people have literally "abandoned their ambitions" due to poor qualifications.

Almost one-in-four young people living in Northern Ireland (24%) expects to "end up on benefits".

For UK school-leavers with poor grades, the number increased significantly to one-in-three (34%).

We must invest in vocational support and training for young people who find themselves at a loose end, as they watch their peers move on to the next chapter of their lives.

The Prince's Trust runs a number of vocational programmes, which are proven to work, with three in four disadvantaged young people moving into jobs, education or training.

Government, employers and charities must work together to prevent young talent from going to waste.

Failing to give our most vulnerable school-leavers a helping hand at a time when many of them need it most risks untold damage to their futures and to our region's prosperity.

IAN JEFFERS

Regional director, The Prince's Trust,

Belfast

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