Memorandum submitted by CASCAiD
In response to the recent call for evidence to contribute towards the Children, Schools and Families Committee inquiry into young people not in education, employment or training (NEET), CASCAiD Ltd is pleased to offer the following observations into how the NEET strategy is impacting young people. In particular, it focuses on how Information, Advice and Guidance (IAG) can support NEET prevention and re-engage those young people not in education, employment or training in developing a positive future.
CASCAiD is the UK's leading provider of careers information and guidance solutions. Part of Loughborough University, CASCAiD has over 40 years experience of supporting the delivery of information, advice and guidance (IAG) to young people. More information about CASCAiD can be found at www.cascaid.co.uk
1. How CASCAiD supports preventative NEET strategies
Our software and internet based information and guidance tools are available in around 70% of UK secondary schools and colleges and are used by almost every local Connexions service as well as by local authorities and other private, public and voluntary sector organisations providing services to support young people.
1.1. The key to reducing the number of young people not in education, employment or training, is ensuring that each young person makes the right choices about their future. If they make the right choices about what they want to learn and where they learn, they are less likely to become disengaged and become NEET To make the right choices they need the right information, advice and guidance about what is available to them and support in making personal choices. With the focus on reducing NEET numbers, a considerable amount of IAG resource has been directed to those young people who are NEET or at high risk of becoming NEET. A number of our customers tell us that they do not have time to provide IAG for non-NEET young people because they are targeted so tightly on NEETs. Where our products are used in schools theoretically they are available to all students, but with advisers and teachers focused on NEETs they tend to be the ones that are specifically encouraged to use the programs and are followed up to ensure they do so. The risk with this approach is that young people who are not deemed to be in one of these categories do not receive effective IAG and as a result later on can become NEET
1.2. Whilst it makes sense to allocate more intensive IAG resource to those young people most at risk, this should not be done at the detriment of others.
We recommend a blended approach to IAG, which utilises low human resource intensive tools such as CASCAiD programs to deliver IAG to all young people, coupled with more extensive adviser led intervention for those young people who require additional support.
1.3. CASCAiD products are based on a foundation of inspiring young people to plan their future. Where young people are made aware as early as possible of all of the future opportunities available to them in terms of education, training and a future career and they are supported with advice and guidance, they can plan a positive future and the likelihood that they will become NEET is reduced.
1.4. Information is provided on over 1,800 careers in total, reflecting careers across the full occupational spectrum. All of our information is independently researched and industry verified to ensure that young people can access accurate, up-to-date labour market information which reflects their needs. Young people can explore careers at their current occupational/qualification level plus those at a higher level and get IAG on the education and training opportunities which will allow them to achieve their aspirations.
1.5. CASCAiD programs are designed to support IAG intervention from age 11 to adulthood. This starts in Key Stage 3 with a program called Launchpad which uses a simple diagnostic tool to identify a young person's skills. It motivates them to set goals to improve their skills. Launchpad then allows the young person to compare their skills to different subject choice options available in Key Stage 4, including GCSEs and Diplomas. This enables them to choose subjects which match their skills and ensures that they make knowledgeable subject choices, which will result in them being less likely to become disengaged from their education.
1.6. Once in Key Stage 4, CASCAiD programs Kudos and Careerscape illustrate the complete range of education, training and career options that a young person can aspire to. Young people are encouraged to explore a range of careers and discover the routes into those careers. Our transparent matching system provides advice and guidance on the careers that may suit a young person based on their interests and aspirations. The programs raise aspirations by showing young people what they could achieve in the long term based on their achievement at school or in training.
This continues into post-16 provision where young people can explore different employment and higher level education/training options based on their current area of study or training.
1.7. Every young person gets a personalised result based on their own input. Regardless of their motivation for completing the program they receive a positive result which helps to move them forward. This makes CASCAiD programs valuable tools for using with all young people as part of preventative NEET strategies.
1.8. A number of areas throughout England have successfully utilised CASCAiD programs in their preventative NEET work. One example is Somerset County Council and Connexions Somerset who earlier in 2009 were awarded half a million pounds by DCSF for successfully reducing NEET numbers. CASCAiD programs are accessible to all young people in Somerset and are used in preventative NEET projects.
1.9. Jackie Hopkins, an adviser working on secondment for Connexions Somerset, Somerset Education Business Partnership and Somerset County Council said,
"Kudos and Careerscape are used with my Vocational Studies Group, which is essentially a preventative NEET group.
I also use the programs as part of a preventative NEET programme which is offered across our schools/consortium areas. Here I introduce students to Kudos and they complete the Kudos Action Plan.
Students identify career matches from Kudos and explore them in depth using Careerscape, to find out if they would be interested in work experience in that area. They identify placements within their community and complete CVs and letters of application. We find the Kudos Action Plan an extremely useful tool to support this.
I use the Action Plan for my NEET Group where we complete Kudos in lessons. I also have an extension activity which is linked to local LMI [Labour Market Information]. I find this exercise extremely beneficial and students love it. From their suggestions or their own career ideas, they choose a career to look at in-depth in Careerscape. They print out the information to keep in their CEIAG [Careers education, information, advice and guidance] folder for future reference. This helps students achieve their long-term goals as they can refer back to it."
2. How CASCAiD programs support the re-engagement of young people not in education, employment or training
2.1. Young people not in education, employment or training often have limited ideas of what options may be available to them in terms of a future career. This coupled with limited knowledge of how to develop a route back into education or training makes it difficult for them to positively re-engage in employment, education or skills development.
2.2. Many young people not in education, employment or training will be very reluctant to return to any type of learning or work. Others may be more positive about re-engaging but will be seeking a very different 'style' of education, training or employment to what they have previously experienced.
In both of these situations, young people not in education, employment or training can be motivated to develop plans for a sustainable future in education, training and employment through effective IAG.
2.3. Simply by making young people aware of the opportunities available to them, they are likely to become more positive and invest time and energy in planning their future.
Furthermore, with guidance available to help them identify the most appropriate learning, training and career routes for them, young people not in education, employment or training can set a course for a positive career.
2.4. Our software tools work by mirroring the guidance process in a completely impartial way. They show young people what they can achieve in terms of a career, allowing them to explore options that suit their skills and interests, as well as exploring the suitability of their own careers ideas. Our programs motivate young people to pursue a positive future via education, training and employment.
2.5. Our programs show them employment, training and learning options which they may not be aware of and provide them with practical advice on how to get into different learning and work pathways.
This is supplemented by practical advice on topics including the Entry to Employment Programme, Finance for Study, Apprenticeships, Further Education Options and Alternatives to Unemployment. This information is provided by CASCAiD's own research team, utilising a range of primary and secondary sources.
2.6. Our articles also include videos of young people discussing how they have made decisions about their future choices. This information is particularly well received by young people as they can relate to many of the case study stories included in the videos.
2.7. CASCAiD programs also provide advice on a range personal issues which may be impacting on a young person's ability or motivation to return to education, training or employment. Topics covered include Homelessness, Drugs, Crime, Bullying and Teenage Pregnancy.
Accurate, up-to-date IAG software, which is easy and attractive to use, has played an important part in NEET prevention strategies.
Where NEETs have access to such software they can carry out their own, impartial explorations of the options available to them, where previously they may have a very limited idea of what was on offer. It is important that their personalised results can be recorded and carried with them throughout school and training to be referred back to and adapted where necessary.
IAG - both software and human resource - has in our customers' view, been too heavily focused on NEETs, with the effect of reducing access for mainstream young people who in turn may run the risk of becoming NEET.
With increased focus on providing young people with access to integrated online service platforms such as ILPs (Individual Learning Plans), ePortfolios, VLEs (Virtual Learning Environments, LAPs (Local Area Prospectus) and CAPs (Common Application Process systems), it is vital that the needs of NEETs are accommodated. Young people not in employment, education or training will not have regular access to a learning or training venue where they can access the information that they need in order to move forward. Therefore, remote access via these area-wide systems is crucial if they are to be engaged with. Ensuring that these systems include first class IAG resources is critical if they are to be accessible to all young people, including those not in education, employment or training. If a young person is to make effective use of such systems they will first need advice and information about all of the options that they are being presented with in an ILP, LAP or similar system. A number of local authorities have integrated our programs within their area-wide delivery systems to enable all young people to access high quality IAG this includes urban areas such as Manchester and Bradford and more rural areas including Suffolk and Derbyshire.
Providing IAG tools via these area-wide systems is the first step to engaging young people not in employment, education or training in using the systems to plan their future.
Effective IAG provision is integral to NEET prevention and reducing NEET numbers. Software tools provide an effective way to delivery IAG to all young people, helping to ensure that they engage in planning a positive future.
Outcomes, results and data from software tools such as ours also help to inform local level NEET prevention strategies. Data on young people's ideas and aspirations can be integrated into client caseload information systems (CCIS) providing evidence of a young person's plans for their future.