NEARLY one in five young people drop out of education, employment or training, according to a new report.

Now council chiefs have moved swiftly to stress that figure does not reflect the current picture.

The Employment Gap in the North West published by charity Impetus reports that 17 per cent of young people are considered NEET ­— not in employment, education or training ­— the fourth highest figure in the Greater Manchester area. For disadvantaged young people that figure stands at 32 per cent, placing it second worst in the table.

The data used in the report looked at groups of students who all sat their GCSEs in the same year, from 2007 to 2012.

People are classified as NEET if they have been out of education, employment or training for at least three consecutive months up to and including March 2017.

Bolton Council said the most up-to-date figure for NEET is four per cent.

Positively, the report also found that 70 per cent of disadvantaged young people with top GCSEs from Bolton access university compared to only 53 per cent of equally well qualified young people from Knowsley.

Nearly one in five ­— 19 per cent ­— of young people in Bolton are classed as disadvantaged according to the report’s authors.

“Where Bolton excels is sending young people to higher education and it is the top three local authority areas in the North West for young people starting higher education ­— for both young people as a whole and disadvantaged young people,” states the report.

A spokesperson for Bolton Council said: “The cohort within this report left school between seven and 12 years ago. Since then, figures for NEET young people have reduced dramatically within Bolton, due to the council fulfilling its statutory duty via Connexions to track and support all young people up to the age of 18.

“Participation figures have increased with 99.5 per cent of young people given an offer of education, employment or training and 96 per cent participating.

“Bolton’s average NEET figure for February to April 2019 was four per cent. We are delighted to see that Bolton excels in supporting disadvantaged young people to attend University, with Bolton ranked third out of North West local authorities.

“Bolton is also ranked third across Greater Manchester for disadvantaged young people going into apprenticeships.

“This is testament to the hard work of our schools, colleges and work-based learning providers.”

The council say organisations work together to help young people.

The spokesman said: “In Bolton we have a multi-agency approach to supporting our young people into training and employment through the Team Bolton Partnership.

“The Partnership consists of the council, schools, colleges, Job Centre Plus, Bolton at Home and businesses working together to link young people’s aspirations and curriculum development to employer needs.

“Helping our residents including our young people to become more self-reliant and promoting a culture of enterprise are key to what we do. The partnership works with employers to support them to grow in Bolton and support the local community including recruiting local people to apprenticeships.”