21/04/2016 05:19 BST | Updated 21/04/2017 06:12 BST

The Secret Success Story

It is widely documented that we are making great strides to reduce long-term youth unemployment, but the success story we don't hear talked about so much is that there are now more young people than ever in education and training.

That's more young people than ever getting the chance to earn a good living or gain the skills they need to succeed, no matter what their background - which is important for them and important for our country.

New labour market figures out yesterday show a record employment rate, higher wages and long term unemployment at its lowest level since 2009, and we want to see this continue. Being without employment and training at a young age means starting out on a back-foot. A young person who does not go on to education or training will earn less throughout their lifetime.

That's why we committed in our manifesto to giving children the best start in life and creating opportunity for all. And we are delivering just that by pressing ahead with our reforms to education, skills training and higher education, making sure every young person has the skills employers need now and for the jobs of the future.

And the figures speak for themselves - At the end of 2015 there were over 270,000 fewer young people aged 16-24 not in education, employment or training (NEET) in England compared to the end of 2011, a fall from 16.0% to 11.6% - the lowest rate since comparable records began in 2000. And that doesn't just happen by magic - this government has been unrelenting in our focus on better education, growing the economy and cutting taxes so businesses can expand and take on talented young workers.

We're not stopping there. We have already pledged to protect school funding and we are making good on our commitment to develop three million more apprenticeships by 2020. In fact, last month National Apprenticeship Week saw employers across the country pledge to create 30,000 new apprenticeships, the highest ever yet. This month, we have changed the rules for National Insurance contributions, meaning employers will no longer pay them for apprentices under 25, making it even easier for businesses to benefit from young apprenticeships and the new UK-wide levy for employers will not only give them more choice over the sort of training they think young people need, it will also help fund more high quality apprenticeships across the board. Fewer than 2% of employers will pay the levy but the whole country will benefit.

But it's not just about what you do when you leave school - we want to see more young people taking part in work experience and getting a taste of life in the workplace. We know that those who take part in work experience spend less time on benefits, longer in work and are financially better off as a result. Recent figures have also shown that there have been more than 340,000 placements started by young people to work experience and sector-based work academies in England since April 2012 - an average of about 350 every working day.

So this is a success story we wanted to tell - and one that we will make sure continues as we deliver on our commitment to giving every child the best start in life and abolish long-term youth unemployment.

Nick Boles is the skills minister and the Conservative MP for Grantham and Stamford

Priti Patel is the employment minister and the Conservative MP for Witham