This week, the government announced that the extension to the Young Person’s Guarantee is to be scrapped.
The Guarantee promises a job or training place to every 18- to 24-year-old who has been out of work for six months or more. It was due to be extended into 2011/12 but that will no longer be going ahead.
Groups which represent learning providers are voicing concerns over the impact that the removal of the Guarantee could have on NEET numbers.
In some quarters, there is a perception that young people who are ‘NEET’ (not in employment education or training), are in that situation because they choose to be. However, research carried out by Rathbone and the Nuffield foundation which I wrote about in an earlier post, shows that many want to be positively engaged but struggle to find the right opportunity.
It is hoped that by raising the participation age, NEET numbers will be reduced. There is likely to be some impact on the 16 to 18 years figures but if opportunities for post-18 engagement are reduced, it is likely that the NEET figures here will increase.
Even more challenging for young people leaving education at age 18 is the fact that they are now finding themselves competing with graduates for employment opportunities.
All of this points to the need for greater IAG (Information, Advice and Guidance) intervention both within post-16 learning and prior to it.
As part of the statutory guidance on careers education which was released earlier this year, a framework for careers education in post-16 learning has been published. It sets out specific criteria to support the delivery of careers education for this age group.
However, delivery of these outcomes has its own challenges. Post-16 learning is highly diverse. Provision for careers education and IAG needs to take into account the needs and circumstances of different learners. Students on WBL (work-based learning), for example, require provision away from the learning establishment. This is just one of the many challenges.
By age 16, 17 and 18, many students will have made decisions about their career and will have chosen learning options based on that. For students on vocationally-specific programmes, a balance needs to be struck between those students who are keen to continue learning in or pursuing a career in that area, and those who, maybe due to limited opportunities, need to cast their eye beyond the sector to find their next opportunity.
An example of a college who has developed a comprehensive program of careers education and IAG is Stockport College. You can read their story here.
In addition to support within post-16 learning, the IAG that a young person receives earlier has a significant bearing on the opportunities that they have at age 18. Helping students to make the right choices at age 14 about Key Stage 4 education, sets them on a pathway which leads to greater engagement, raises achievement and aspirations. This puts them in the best possible position to make choices about what they want to do at age 16 and, again with good quality careers education support and IAG, they can make the right choices which lead to more success and opens up more opportunities at age 18.