Memorandum submitted by A4e

 

 

Introduction

1.1 This formal response is submitted on behalf of A4e in relation to the Children, Schools and Families inquiry into young people not in education, employment or training (NEET). A4e would be happy to provide further clarification on any aspects of our response.

1.2 A4e currently delivers a range of contracts across the UK to young people. A summary of the work we do with young people who are in danger of becoming NEET appears as Appendix 1. A4e have, in the last two and half years alone, engaged with 1,954 hardest to reach NEET young people or those pre 16 at risk of becoming NEET, supporting 539 into education / training and 402 into employment and with 713 achieving part and full qualifications along the way.

1.3 A4e also deliver many of the support services that NEETs who are not appropriately supported end up needing, for example on behalf of the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), A4e deliver Flexible New Deal, New Deal Prime Contract, Pathways to Work, New Deal for Disabled People, DWP European Social Fund and JCP Programme Centre. A4e also deliver learning and skills service in Adult Prisons and Young Offenders Institutions (covering Juveniles 14 - 17 & Young offenders 18 - 20).

1.4 A4e believes that the profound impact of the recession on this group has been fully explored elsewhere and as a result A4e's response to this inquiry is confined to our practical experience of supporting this particular client group.

 

Strategies for the identification of young people at risk of falling into the "NEET" category

2.1 A4e is aware that the NEET strategy places great importance on early identification of young people at risk of becoming NEET and A4e would endorse this approach. DCSF has acknowledged that CCIS is not able to rigorously track all individuals to the degree that was intended[1].

2.2 At a local level a number of different tools are used by schools/colleges to identify young people at risk of becoming NEET especially at key transition points. As part of A4e's ELITE project in Redcar and Cleveland, our teams are involved in developing a screening tool to be used by local schools and colleges to identify those young people most at risk. This is due to be developed over the next 6 months.

2.3 In A4e's experience the key factors for 'at risk of NEET' are diverse and include, academic attainment, attendance records, observed behaviour, perceived learning difficulties, personal & physical health issues, emotional & mental health issues, social exclusion, poverty, low levels of literacy and numeracy, family triggers particularly bereavement, generational unemployment, ethnicity, disability and looked after young people.

2.4 A4e would recommend further work to better understand the factors which have the most impact in determining why young people become NEET with particular reference to the recession.

 

Services and programmes to support those most at risk of becoming "NEET", and to reduce the numbers and address the needs of those who have become persistently "NEET"

3.1 A4e staff have delivered a number of initiatives to engage, support, training and progress NEET young people and also to re-engage those at risk of NEET. More details of some of the components of our current work with NEETs can be found in Appendix 1.

3.2 A4e believe that there are three key themes in relation to effective support for people who are 'at risk of becoming NEET' or NEET, they are:-

l Early Interventions

l Holistic Support

l Importance of the household

3.3 The importance of early support as a theme runs throughout this agenda. Early support is needed to prevent young people who are at risk of becoming NEET actually becoming NEET. Early support is needed by young people who are NEET to prevent them from suffering from the poor opportunities / outcomes in later life, these can include poor health, a higher tendency to have a criminal record, financial poverty, homelessness, substance addiction, worklessness, low or no skills and a poverty of aspiration/self-confidence. From the individual's point of view this is clearly a personal tragedy; from the state's point of view the cost of supporting this individual over the course of their life is likely to be very high. A report[2] conducted on behalf of DFES predicted the per capita lifetime cost of a NEET individual was 97,000. The report also suggested that if 10,000 NEETs were successfully supported into education, employment or training the state would immediately save 53 million in resource costs and 55 million in public finance costs. Lifetime present value savings of moving the same 10,000 NEETs into a successful outcome would be 450 million in resource costs and 520 million in public finance costs. For context there are currently 261,000[3] NEETs in the UK according to the NEET Quarterly LFS series.

3.4 A4e has been at the forefront of support for the Invest to Save model in welfare to work. The Invest to Save model sees the state invest now against the future cost of a lack of activity, so in the welfare to work market providers who move the unemployed back into work are rewarded through the saved benefits that the state hasn't needed to support the individual with. A4e would strongly support a similar approach taken with this client group. There is clearly enough public money at stake to warrant consideration of an Invest to Save model.

3.5 In our experience holistic services are vital to support young people and their supporters particularly because young people often face multiple barriers. Therefore the wider community impact needs to be addressed via holistic, interlinked services addressing issues of third / fourth generation unemployment and social poverty. A programme providing isolated support to a young person without recognising and impacting upon the wider often complex issues in the young person's life can never really make a sustainable impact. Effective partnership working is key to driving forward coherent holistic support as no one organisation can provide all of the support required. Effective co-ordination of different services such as bereavement support, confidence building, debt management, education services, mental health / addiction service etc is vital.

3.6 It is generally accepted that parent and carers are the key main influence in a young person's life. Support programmes which work with households rather than individuals are rightly becoming of interest to policy makers. A4e currently runs a small pilot in Germany to deliver welfare to work services to households in Gelsenkirchen. A4e have found that directly targeting households with high levels of unemployment using a family‐based work first approach, A4e have been able to facilitate change for the entire family.

3.7 The benefits have included:-

l Developing stronger household units - Addressing core values and attitudes towards work collectively has a greater impact than if delivered individually. This results in stronger household units that live, work and support each other in achieving their shared and individual goals for a better future.

l Financial independence and increased standards of living ‐ Multiple salary households are more financially stable. The flexibility and opportunities that financial independence affords has a significant impact on the standard of living and life experiences of households.

l Role models for the future ‐ A high level of unemployment embedded within families is a root cause of unemployment in the long term amongst second and third generation family members. Becoming role models for other families and family members will motivate customers instilling them with confidence.

3.8 A4e recommends piloting programs which explore the potential of both Invest to Save and a household focused model of intervention for supporting NEETS.

 

The effectiveness of the Government's NEET strategy

4.1 A4e agrees with the rationale behind the three stages of careful tracking, personalised guidance and support and provision of a full range of courses to meet demand as was laid out in this document. A4e's experience has been that there have been issues with implementation. The last DCSF strategy[4] was published in 2007 and as such predates much of the turmoil in the labour market/economy so A4e welcomes the recent updated strategy[5] which was released in December 2009. Since this policy update has been launched during this inquiry A4e is still absorbing the detail of the reforms.

4.2 The September guarantee introduced by the 2007 strategy has been the start of the process of making education and training compulsory to the age of 18, however A4e have found that the lack of flexibility shown by educational establishments towards a September intake has created significant issues eg young person starts September and drops out in October they have 10 months to wait before being able to start another course. A4e have found that in some areas the September Guarantee has had a positive impact on levels of NEETs however 17/18 year old SEET's (Seeking Education, Employment or Training) have increased in some areas by 25%, due to the focus by providers on the September guarantee. The introduction of a January guarantee from 2010 will improve this situation, though A4e still feel that more needs to be done.

4.3 A4e also particularly welcomes the extension of Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA) payments to support more learners[6].

 

The likely impact of raising the participation age on strategies for addressing the needs of young people not in education, employment or training

5.1 The raising of the participation age is likely to see emphasis placed on retention programmes. However this needs to be in conjunction with high quality alternative education for young people with personalised / specialist support, or for whom vocational training can provide a more flexible approach to learning, allowing young people to build their qualification levels in line with Foundation Learning programmes. This approach must be accompanied by impartial quality IAG and linked into diplomas, high quality work experience, pastoral support and high quality young people's Apprenticeship programmes if it is to be effective.

 

The opportunities and future prospects in education, training and employment for 16-18 year olds

6.1 Young people on A4e NEET reduction programmes consistently strive for employment with real career progression. The Government's Future Jobs Fund scheme has provided subsidised employment opportunities for 18 - 14 years olds, in local authority / partner organisations for between 6 - 12 months. However the rigidity of eligibility on Future Jobs Fund in that 16/17 years olds cannot claim JSA and are therefore ineligible for the scheme.

6.2 A4e have a strong track record of employing NEET young people as evaluators, advisers and deliverers, ensuring that not only does the organisation practice what it preaches but also that young people help design the services that A4e are providing to ensure the endorsement of - and credibility with - the target group.

6.3 There is a general expectation that irrespective of national government changes that there will be increased growth in the scope and promotion of Apprenticeships programmes.

 

December 2009

Appendix 1

 

Summary of A4e's work with NEETs

 

Pre - 16

l Engagement of young people excluded or at risk of exclusion from school via links with schools / Pupil Referral Units.

l Personalised support from a Key Worker that remains with the young person from start to finish on the programme - this role is pivotal, providing ongoing mentoring and support to liaise with the many different organisations that can be involved with a young person at this stage.

l Mentoring support is also of huge benefit to parents, keeping them informed of process, progress and in liaising with schools and partners. We have found that many parents do not understand the plethora of information and sometimes complex systems that operate to support their child and that parents may benefit from the key workers supporting them to have a voice at formal meetings.

l Key worker role - 1:1 assessment of need and sourcing of support to overcome barriers to progression e.g. specialist support with alcohol / substance misuse, bereavement, learning difficulties / disabilities etc. Development of Individual Action Plan in conjunction with the young person ensuring that aims and objectives match aspirations and gaining buy in from the young person. Delivery of qualifications (level 1 equivalent) and personal development programmes to increase confidence / self-esteem and support the young person with the skills to progress. Delivery of career orientation, job search and employability skills training.

l Access to extended work experience placements with ongoing Mentoring support from the Key Worker

l Personal tailored programmes that get to the bottom of what the young person needs and provides a structured pathway to progression.

 

16- 19

l Identification of young people who are NEETs in partnership with local stakeholders (Connexions, 14 - 19 Partnerships, schools and Pupil Referral Units, Voluntary and Community Sector organisations) and via one to one engagement techniques

l Provision of innovative and structured personal development programmes to identify with young peoples personal aspirations and assist them to gain the skills necessary to progress. This involves observational analysis, 1:1 assessment, pre-employability skills training, training or work tasters, additional support to meet individual needs (e.g. anger management, bereavement counselling, assistance with learning difficulties and disabilities, etc), basic skills assessment and training, group and project work to encourage team / leadership skills, functional and wider key skills development, reward activities such as quad biking / laser tag as a reward for distance travelled on the programme, delivery of level 1 qualifications relevant to the local labour market skills shortages and young persons aspirations, counselling, mentoring, IAG, visits to training providers / colleges / employers and in-work support 1, peer review and evaluation.

l Establishment of a service delivery network with the voluntary and community sector to ensure those furthest removed from training and employment are reached.

l Holistic service delivery to include mentoring support and IAG to family members/supporters of young people to address issues of generational unemployment and broaden the socio-economic impact of the programme on the wider community.

 

Life Coaching

Once young people have moved into a positive destination e.g. into employment, into education / training, Life Coaching is extremely beneficial to support transition and retention. Life Coaching will support the young person at key stages over the first six months the frequency and method will depend on individual needs e.g. some young people may just need a quick call to establish they are coping well, others may need intensive support to manage the transition involving face to face meetings and mediation with an employer / education provider if required.

 

Vox Tots

For children aged 5- 11 yrs who are already at risk of exclusion from school, A4e can provide a Vox Tots centre with practical activities e.g. hair and beauty, construction, catering units with a heavy focus on cognitive behaviour therapies, literacy and numeracy skills and wider key skills (communication, team work, listening skills etc). Parental involvement and engagement is key with support going into the wider family unit.

 

 



[1] DCSF (2009) Investing in Potential - Our Strategy to increase the proportion of 16-24 year olds

in education, employment or training

[2] Godfrey C, Hutton S, Bradshaw J, et al. Estimating the Cost of Being "Not in Education, Employment or Training" at Age 16-18. Social Policy. 2002:88.

[3] DCSF (2009) DCSF: NEET Statistics Quarterly Brief (Q3).

[4] DCSF (2007) Reducing the number of young people not in education, employment or training (NEET)

[5] DCSF (2009) Investing in Potential - Our Strategy to increase the proportion of 16-24 year olds

in education, employment or training

[6] DCSF (2009) Investing in Potential - Our Strategy to increase the proportion of 16-24 year olds

in education, employment or training