Group to explore effects of card axe

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THE impact of scrapping a discount travel card for young people should be investigated, councillors have advised.

Suffolk County Council’s scrutiny committee recommended that a group be set up to look into the transport issues facing young people, including the effects of axing the Explore card.

Councillors drafted a series of measures for the authority to consider after debating the high numbers of 16 to 18-year-olds in the county Not in Education, Employment or Training (NEETs).

During the meeting, they heard heartfelt accounts from three West Suffolk College students, whose diverse and challenging life experiences had left them out of work.

One had disengaged from learning aged 11, another had suffered from agoraphobia and one had dealt with bouts of homelessness from the age of 16.

They also spoke about issues of funding, employment and transport.

Sherry Fry, head of school of participation at the college, said: “They received a round of applause for their honesty and assertiveness at what was a daunting experience.”

West Suffolk is the only further education college in the region to have formed a school with a dedicated focus on intervention aimed at helping disengaged young people to achieve.

Recent statistics revealed that nearly one in 14 youngsters in Suffolk have no college place, job, or training when they leave school.

Other recommendations from the committee include:

n Assurances should be sought from cabinet that the ‘good work’ of the Connexions service will not be lost as new services take over.

n The director of adult and community services to be asked to ensure appropriate support is provided to young carers to help them into work, training or education.

n West Suffolk College be asked to explore with other colleges in Suffolk whether their model to increase participation could be replicated.

n Officers should be encouraged to work with the Suffolk Chamber of Commerce and Young Suffolk Chamber to identify ways in which employers could support employment and training opportunities for young people.