Low-skilled British youth have more difficulty to enter the labour market more than any other Western country, an OECD report that was released this week revealed. The report, OECD Skills Outlook, an annual survey measuring skills and employability of the youth highlighted that young Britons who are not in education, employment or training (NEETs) struggle with literacy and numeracy skills.  The literacy gap between the NEETs and employed youth in Britain (12.6 percent) was around double the OECD average (6.5 percent) whereas in some countries like Korea this figure was as low as 1.2 percent.

“Addressing this issue is not only a moral imperative, but also an economic necessity,” said Angel Gurría, said OECD Secretary-General, who launched this report in Berlin.

“Too many young people leave education without having acquired the right skills and, even those who do, are prevented from putting them to productive use. These young people often face a difficult future and need all our support,” he added.

The report suggested British government to step up and “concentrate on helping the NEETs to re-engage with education or the labour market.”

Last week, office of National Statistics announced that the number of the young people out of education, employment or training is at its lowest in the last 10 years.

However one in eight people aged between 16 and 24 still classify as NEET.

According to Amy Lalla, director of Let Me Play, an organisation running educational programmes for deprived youth and NEETs, key to bridge the skill gap is to understand that some young people have different needs and to intervene early.

“Not having adequate numeracy and literacy skills directly locks many young people out of labour market.

Many of these people didn’t get along with traditional school on the first place, and not having these skills disengage them even further,” she told Blasting News.

The newest findings indeed reveal that 56 percent of the NEETs consider themselves as “inactive”, as they reported that they are not seeking for employment.

“We should not wait until young people become NEETs to intervene.

If we are to intervene early, there are easy-wins to be made,” Lalla added.

Similarly, "Policies should focus on helping the NEETs, including those who have become disengaged, to renew with education or integrate into the labour market," OECD Skills Outlook 2015 noted.

Youth unemployment and underemployment has long-lasting consequences on both individual and country levels, as one recent study found that one in six NEETs die within 10 years of leaving the school.

Hence, the report highlighted that youth unemployment must be tackled with a holistic approach. It called education organisations, the labour market, tax and social institutions, employer and employee organisations, and parents and young people themselves to incorporate flexible and responsible solutions for youth unemployment.

OECD’s suggestions for investment priorities are to be discussed next week in Paris, at a forum with the theme “Investing in People”, on 2 – 3 June.