Tens of thousands of 16 to 18 year olds are taking “dead-end courses” that don’t lead into work or further study, and are likely to become NEET by the age of 19, according to a new report from the think tank IPPR. Almost a quarter of a million teenagers who left school without good qualifications are studying these courses but IPPR says that up to 50,000 would be better off on apprenticeship or in stronger forms of pre-apprenticeship training.

The new report, which is part of IPPR’s flagship Condition of Britain project, is the second in a series of three reports on young people, work and benefits that IPPR is publishing during November. The report comes ahead of the publication of the latest statistics on the number of young people not in education, employment or training (NEET).

New IPPR analysis shows that, between 2006 and 2010, more than 1 in 5 of those studying for a level 2 qualification at age 16/17 and 17/18 ends up NEET by the time they are 19/20 and nearly in 1 in 4 doing level 1 courses ends up NEET. This group is more than three times as likely to be NEET at age 19/20 than those studying for A/AS-levels at the same ages.

IPPR’s new report shows that more than half a million (560,000) young people who left education with just a low level qualification are not in work. It also shows that the lower the level of your qualifications, the less likely you are to find a job.

The state of the labour market means that few entry-level jobs are available to school leavers and only a third (33 per cent) of those who left school with no qualifications are in work. The report shows that young people are finding themselves out of work for longer than before: the rate of young people out of work for more than a year has more than doubled since 2008.

The report also shows that half of those aged 18-30 who do not already own a home doubt they will be able to buy one in the next ten years, but 74 per cent who pay rent and live with parents, family or friends would prefer to own their own home. The report shows that half of first time buyers now need their parents to help them out financially.

Kayte Lawton, Senior Research Fellow at IPPR, said:

“Most young people don’t choose to walk away from work or education, but most employers won’t hire teenagers any more. Young people who don’t do well enough at school often end up taking colleges courses that don’t prepare them for work or further study. Many of these courses don’t include enough decent work experience and often fail to lead to a recognised qualification.

“School-leavers used to be able to get good jobs in manufacturing and office work that didn’t need lots of qualifications but were a source of self-respect as well as a decent pay packet. Now, low-skilled jobs in service industries are often badly paid and lacking in status, but also require skills like relating to customers that many young jobseekers have yet to learn.

“We need to see big changes to the way that post-16 education works and we need employers to step up and offer more work experience to young people to help them learn the skills they need to get on in the workplace. We can’t expect schools to do this by themselves”