THE number of young people not in education, work or training has plunged nearly 40 per cent since 2012, it has emerged.

New figures from Worcestershire County Council reveals how the slow but upward economic recovery is helping more 16-25 year-olds find a purpose.

In December, the last time the figures were calculated, 523 people were classed as NEETS in the county - those not in education, employment or training.

Exactly one year before that date it was784 and in December 2011 it was 859, when the economy was in turmoil, meaning it has fallen 39 per cent in two years, The data also comes amid the surge in apprenticeships - in 2011 just 2,590 people got onto a scheme but it climbed to more than 6,000 last year, a record high.

Your Worcester News 100 in 100 campaign, which called on 100 employers to take on at least one apprentice each and power past that target, helped boost the tally.

The plight of young people was debated during a full council meeting, where some politicians said the authority has a huge role to play in boosting it further.

Councillor Simon Geraghty, deputy leader and the cabinet member for economy, skills and infrastructure said: "The number of NEETS are recorded on a monthly basis and should only be taken as a snap shot in time, but if you take December's figures, the last month for which they are available, it does show they have come down recently."

Councillor Peter McDonald, Labour group leader, said: "Whether it's 800 or 500, do you not agree that too many young people are disappearing off the face of the earth in Worcestershire?"

Cllr Geraghty replied: "I agree we need to do more as a council and help as much as we can - every young person is someone we want to help.

"But there will always be people in that category, for whatever reason.

"While we always want to see it lower, it is falling."

The county council is exploring the possibility of setting up 'employment hubs' in Worcestershire, located at strategic sites in Worcestershire, to supplement what is already on offer in traditional job centres.

It would include areas like Worcester and Kidderminster, and alert young people to new training and job opportunities, as well as advice.

It also plans to boost traineeships at County Hall, and continue to invest in its talent match scheme, which matches young people up with good employers.