Figures provided by the Local Government Association (LGA) show that more than £800m of education money is being “wasted” by schools and colleges because of poor advice being given to students about post-16 study options.
They state that 178,100 16- to 18-year-olds failed to complete post-16 qualifications during 2012/13, increasing their risk of being not in education, employment or training (Neet).
According to an the cost of post-16 education dropouts was £316m for A and AS Level students, £302m for those on further education courses and £192m on apprenticeships.
The LGA said the problem is down to the way post-16 education is funded, with too much emphasis currently placed on schools and colleges filling places, rather than working with young people to provide the right courses.
It is calling for local authorities to be put at the centre of a revamped post-16 system that would see them work more closely with schools, colleges and employers to better co-ordinate further education, careers advice services and employment schemes.
David Simmonds, chairman of the LGA’s children and young people board, said: “Councils want every young person to achieve their full potential but too many are still dropping out of post-16 education and training or not achieving a passing grade.
“Our analysis lays bare the substantial financial costs of this but the human cost is even greater with youngsters left struggling with uncertainty, a sense of failure and facing tough decisions about what to do next.”
The LGA claims the number of disengaged young people is at an all time low, with councils helping more of them get back into learning despite holding no formal powers over careers advice, further education or apprenticeships.
Simmonds added: “Councils are having success in helping young people that do drop out back into learning but fear a failure to reform the centralised ‘bums on seats’ approach to funding further education could leave too many teenagers at risk of dropping out or without the skills needed to get a job.
“Local councils, colleges, schools and employers know how to best help their young people and should have devolved funding and powers to work together to give young people the best chance of building careers and taking jobs that exist locally.”