· Homeless young people are
disproportionately likely to be NEET.
Two-thirds (65%) of young people are NEET when they arrive at
· Homeless young people face a
myriad of barriers to successfully engage in education and employment. It is crucial that all strategies around NEETs
are integrated with youth support services to help young people overcome any such
barriers, such as housing and financial crises and mental health problems.
· Flexible learning opportunities
must be offered to allow young people to take part at their own pace.
Centrepoint is creating a 'College Without Walls' which will allow young people
to learn in their own way and at their own pace, not bound by an academic year
or single institution.
· Life skills and non-formal
education will be an important part for engagement and learning support. IT
literacy and online learning will be a critical component for engagement,
support and flexibility in learning, as well as employment and life skills.
· Centrepoint believes that ensuring
there are opportunities for young people post 19 will be imperative if the
raising of the compulsory participation age is to be successful, otherwise it
may simply delay young people becoming NEET and cause them to become disillusioned
is the leading national charity working with homeless young people aged 16 to
25. Established almost 40 years ago, we are a registered social landlord, and
have over 30 supported housing and floating support services across London and the North East.
young people are disproportionately likely to be not in employment, education
of training (NEET). In 2008/9, two thirds (65%) of young people who came to
Centrepoint were NEET on arrival (55% of 16-19s and 76% of 20-25s). This is far higher than the national averages
of one in ten 16-17 year olds (9.6%) and one in six 18-24s (17.6%).
has an in-house learning team that works across all Centrepoint services. It
provides ongoing specialist support to young people, offering learning and work
advice, basic skills and IT training, financial literacy support, sports and
leisure support, mentoring and befriending, work placements and vocational
guidance. This intensive support greatly
improves participation rates while young people are at Centrepoint. A snapshot measure taken at the end of
September showed that less than a third (30%) of young people at Centrepoint
were NEET whilst at our services, compared to two thirds (65%) on arrival.
Strategies for the identification of young
people at risk of falling into the "NEET" category
4. Even before
becoming homeless, the experiences of many of the young people Centrepoint works
with will have increased their chances of becoming NEET. For many, homelessness
is a symptom of wider problems and deep-rooted support needs. Young people at risk of becoming NEET can be
broadly defined into two main categories:
i. those whose background (both
familial and personal) puts them on a trajectory to becoming NEET; and
ii. those who are disadvantaged by a
significant single event such as a bereavement.
5. Each group
requires a different approach to support in order to prevent them becoming NEET
in the long-term. Young people who fall
into first group may have experienced long-term abuse or spent time in the care
system. This can lead to long-term problems.
Many such young people develop mental health problems due to a lack of
self worth which all too often leads to a lack of engagement with improving their
prospects for the future. The key to
helping these young people is early intervention to ensure support is provided
before long-term psychological barriers and low aspirations develop.
6. Those in
the second group are in need of intensive support after the event to give them
the emotional and practical help they need to reengage with their personal
development and avoid falling into a destructive cycle.
7. Being homelessness
is in itself a major factor in contributing to a young person's chance of
becoming NEET. Until housing issues are
resolved, homeless young people are typically unable to sustain a work
placement, education or training. It can be difficult to commit to attending a
specific place of learning on certain days at certain times, and some may need extra
support to help them get the most out of education, for example where English
is not their first language.
young people will simply not be ready to go to school or college or take a job
that includes training, instead needing extra support and care to deal with
personal issues and concerns first. Some may not have had a good experience at
school or college, or not had the encouragement and support they needed in
their education, and are therefore not interested in continuing to participate.
They may come from a background where their family and acquaintances have
little or no experience of work or further education. Financial barriers to learning include a
possible loss of benefits when a young person undertakes education and
training, and the challenge of meeting the costs of studying compared to
earning money now from a job. Young people may simply not have the money to
travel to college or enough food to eat and concentrate on studies.
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"
9. It is
important that those at risk are not viewed as a static group. Many young people, particularly vulnerable
young people with support needs, tend to drop in and out of education and
those studying, poor living conditions, no space to study or a lack of support
and encouragement, are steep barriers to overcome. Incomplete advice or not
having the right course at the right time or in an accessible place can
restrict their opportunities. Sometimes chaotic lives and fractured transitions
can make it difficult to integrate into a structured programme of further
education, itself driven by a funding regime bound by an academic year, completion
rates and key performance indicators based around qualifications.
is therefore important that young people do not fall off the radar as soon as
they enter education and employment. For
many young people, their first few experiences of such activities may be
unsuccessful, but this should not disadvantage them in terms of future support
or opportunities. Young people need stable services who provide a constant
source of support throughout their journey in and out of education and
employment, similar to the role Centrepoint support workers play for young
people during their stay with us.
believes in giving young people the opportunity to try new experiences that
could lead to education, training and employment. In 2007, Centrepoint launched Lifewise, a
programme to give young people increased confidence about living on their own.
It provides a range of life skills training, including debt management and
healthy living, and is accredited by the Assessment and Qualifications Alliance
Awards (AQA). For many young people that take part in Lifewise courses, these are
the first formal qualifications they have achieved, and can therefore be an
important step towards increasing confidence and engaging with mainstream
education services and training initiatives are about creating routes and
access for young people within current provision. However, simply re-doubling
efforts within the same forms of provision risks re-doubling rejection and
failure, and therefore innovation is needed. Centrepoint is therefore working
with Learndirect to support online learning and flexible routes whereby young
people can access, benefit from and progress at schools, colleges and
universities, with training providers and at work.
aim of the College Without Walls is to support homeless young people to learn
at their own pace, in their own way that best suits them with a wide range of
opportunities for learning. Not bound by an academic year or single
institution, learning will be designed with the active involvement of young
people and in partnership with educational institutions and employers.
Without Walls will need to provide a flexible curriculum where young people can
engage on their terms when they are ready. It will work within the 14-19
curriculum framework as well as provision for young adults post-19. IT skills
and non-formal education will be an important part for engagement and learning
will remain enrolled in College Without Walls as students, even when they may
have dropped out of, or been rejected by, other institutions. They must be able
to 'fail' in formal terms, but stay involved in learning. This will require:
i. Learning staff equipped for
diagnostics and tutorials 'at home' and online
ii. Magnet courses and programmes to
engage in learning
iii. Access courses, tasters and
credits to carry forward to college - getting a head start
iv. Face-to-face and online learning,
within a credit framework
v. Credit portability but also
funding portability, breaking the dependency on course completion
vi. Managed learning environment
online with individual learning accounts
vii. Buddy/mentors in person and
viii. Personalised IAG (information,
advice and guidance)
ix. Spaces to study, online learning
and 24 hour access to computers
The effectiveness of the Government's NEET
the NEET figures have remained stubbornly high, the economic situation has severely
hampered the effectiveness of the Government's NEETs strategy. In fact, the Government's strategy has led to
a number of positive developments for at risk groups such as homeless young
introduction of diplomas has represented a big step forward by creating a more varied
set of educational options for young people, taking account of the different
skill sets of different individuals. The
recognition of practical skills as well as academic ability can be extremely
valuable to those who struggle in traditional classroom settings. In addition, the ability to start at the
level that matches their ability is very positive as it helps to prevent young
people from becoming disillusioned with learning by covering ground they have
already mastered. The involvement of
employers in the schemes is also hugely beneficial as it gives young people an
insight the world of work and provides links with potential employers which can
be useful in securing work at the end of the course.
on these close working relationships with employers will be integral to effective
long-term plans to reduce the proportion of young people who are NEET. It is crucial that the government ensures
that employers have (or expect to have) jobs in a particular sector before
young people are given training in the necessary skills. If young people commit to training courses
only to find there are no jobs available at the end, it is likely they will
become disillusioned which may risk their level of future participation in
education and training.
this work with employers, preventative work targeted towards at risk groups is
crucial. It is therefore important that
funding for such work is not drained during the recession, particularly as it
should reap big savings to the public purse in the long-term. This work must include initiatives for the
hardest to help as well as those already close to education or work. As the economy improves, it is likely that
there will be a curve in the reduction of NEETs with the low hanging fruit moved
back into education or work first. It is
important that this progress does not lead to the harder to help being left
that local authorities will hold responsibilities for local 14-19 strategies,
it is crucial that they properly integrate these services with other local
services. Full participation of local 14-19 teams in the Children's Trust will
therefore be key. This will help integrate
learning opportunities with youth support services such as Connexions and
voluntary sector support groups. While
these links are already operating well in some areas, it is far from universal
so more should be done to make this kind of integrated support consistently
is also crucial that local strategies include better tailoring and subsiding of
transport for young people. Young people
in education often have to survive on extremely low incomes, particularly
homeless young people who do not receive any support from their families. Creating affordable and convenient travel
options will be crucial in enabling young people to take up EET opportunities. While travel subsidies work quite well in
some areas, they are not consistent. DCSF
and the Department for Transport therefore need to ensure a consistent approach
to travel discounts across all local authorities to bring educational and
positive activities within reach.
The likely impact of raising the
participation age on strategies for addressing the needs of young people not in
education, employment or training
is crucial that strategies around raising the participation age consider those
who are vulnerable and have support needs, particularly homeless young
people. A fifth of the young people
Centrepoint works with are 16 or 17 who will be required to be in some form of
education or training. Given the chaotic
lifestyles which many young people lead, traditional learning environments will
not be suitable for them.
as homeless will be considered a special circumstance to exempt a young person
from compulsory participation (although support services and programmes to
engage in learning will be triggered). But it is important that homeless young
people who are not ready to learn at 16 or 17 years of age, are not lost to the
system at 18. Rather, flexible learning opportunities must be established, such
as Centrepoint's proposed College Without Walls, whereby young people can be
registered with College Without Walls and, when ready, learning can be triggered
even if this is post-18. This must be
linked to intensive support for those that need it to make sure young people
are ready for a formal system.
raising of the participation age will only help to reduce the NEET figures if
there are enough post-19 opportunities or it will simply delay them becoming
NEET. Turning 18 does not necessary mean
young people are ready for the next step.
Homeless young people often have a gap in their education due to crises
in their lives, and may therefore need as much support as younger people to
continue education or training post-18 and achieve the qualifications and
skills they need for their future.
raising of the participation age provides an opportunity to pilot flexible,
intensive education support, such as the College Without Walls, which if
successful, could act as a valuable model for potentially NEET young people of
The opportunities and future prospects in
education, training and employment for 16-18 year olds
considering what opportunities should be available, it is essential to ensure
that other statutory systems operate in such a way that assist rather than act
as a barrier to young people taking up these responsibilities. Financial barriers all too often prevent
vulnerable young people from taking up opportunities that could improve their
future prospects. It is integral that
young people over the age of 18 are also considered as many homeless young
people will have had their education put on hold due to psychological distress,
problems at home, and the disruption of frequently moving. Income support for 16-19 year olds in
full-time education who are estranged from their parents is a key lifeline to
the young people who receive it, and we believe it is one that should be
extended to all young people up to the age of 25.
literacy and online learning will be a critical component for opportunities in
education and employment, including engagement, support and flexibility in
learning. In addition, access to many
public services, work and leisure time activities is increasingly moving
online, meaning online literacy will be necessary for a range of young people's
well as financial support and IT literacy, emotional support is crucial. Vulnerable young people need a caring
environment like that offered at Centrepoint to help them boost up their
confidence and aspirations so they are in a psychological state to actively
pursue their education. It is crucial to
start from where young people are, help them decide where they want to go and
enable them to take steps towards this.
This intensive support then needs to provide bridges to the mainstream
system so they can get the qualifications they need to help them in wider
homeless young people have support needs which cannot be seen in isolation from
their education and employment status.
Any strategy aimed at reducing the number of young people who are NEET
must be underpinned by a wider system of support that helps vulnerable young
people progress to a point where they are ready to engage with education and
employment. To this end, it is also
crucial that education and training opportunities are flexible and
personalised, as proposed in Centrepoint's College Without Walls, to allow
young people to gain skills and qualifications at their own pace. Specialised support of this kind could then
be extended into the mainstream to ensure that all young people who are NEET
receive the full range of support they need.
 Data taken from statistical bulletin for
Quarter 2 of 2009