Poor provision is stopping teenagers finding a job or apprenticeship or considering going on to university.
They say it is “simply not enough” to keep teenagers in education until 18 if they fail to leave with decent qualifications and experience.
Instead, this will delay an “inevitable fall” into becoming “Neet” – not in education, employment or training.
Figures show that nearly 1.18 million 16 to 24-year-olds are classed as Neets and in addition to this, the number of people whose whereabouts are unknown is rising, inspectors said.
The education inspectorate’s annual report on further education (FE) and skills said providers and employers should work together to ensure that their education and training leads to secure employment.
The report urges the government to ensure there is a reliable system for tracking young people as they move between different types of education and training.
It says local councils should be given powers to make sure they are given full information by schools, academies and colleges on youngsters who drop out of their studies.
The Ofsted report warns:
- too many education providers are not ensuring their programmes meet the needs of learners
- too much teaching of English and mathematics is not good enough
- too few students progress to an apprenticeship, employment or higher levels of learning
- too much careers guidance is weak, not giving teenagers a clear idea of the paths available to them.
The Ofsted report comes as research suggests young people face a “postcode lottery” in gaining careers advice.
Research by the National Careers Council shows wide differences in the availability of information and guidance across England.
Ofsted’s director for further education and skills, Lorna Fitzjohn, said: “As the participation age for education and training rises to 18, it needs to be acknowledged that the 18 to 24 age group could fast become the ‘new Neets’.
“It is simply not enough to keep young people in education and training longer if they still fail to gain meaningful qualifications and experience that will help them achieve their career goals. Instead, all this will do for many is delay their inevitable fall into the Neet category.
“This is why we need clear and combined action by the government, local authorities and employers to overcome these failures.”
‘Low Neet rate’
A Department for Education spokeswoman said: “The number of young people Neet is at its lowest level since consistent records began.
“And it is encouraging that this report by Ofsted shows our plan for post-16 education is already having a positive impact just two terms after coming into effect.
“The report shows positive early signs that schools and colleges are entering young people for more rigorous qualifications.
“In fact, the latest figures show that the numbers of those over the age of 17 taking GCSEs in English and maths are rising, giving thousands more the vital knowledge and skills demanded by employers.”