There is a nationwide problem of young people not in education, employment or training (NEET). The number of NEET teenagers has increased due to the economic climate, but is this problem proportional in urban and rural areas? The Commission for Rural Communities (CRC) has produced a report: ‘Barriers to education, employment and training for young people in rural areas’ to discuss this issue, and to see if there are any uniquely rural barriers which may be increasing the number of teenagers who are NEET.
Since the economic recession in 2008, the number of young people who are NEET in the UK has nearly reached 1 million (16-24 year olds). The number in rural areas has risen from 9.4% to 12.9% of young people in those areas.
The report comments on barriers that young people in rural areas may face, regarding employment, education and training. These barriers include transport, careers advice and employment and training.
Transport is seen as a huge barrier for young people in rural areas, as with isolated communities the reliance on a car is much higher than for young people in urban areas. However, due to the cost of lessons, a car and insurance, the reality of being able to own and run a car is not possible for a large number. This means that there is a high reliance of public transport, but the report found that with high costs and low availability, this is creating a problem for young people if they need to study or work away from their local community. Compared to young people in urban areas, young people in rural areas are more dependent on public transport, spend more time on it and pay more for it. Young people in rural areas pay 20% more and spend 50 minutes a day more on public transport than young people in urban areas.
These costs, in terms of money and time, can cause a problem, especially post-16 when the local authority has no requirement to assist with transport costs to and from places of learning. The report found that ‘34% of young people who did not participate in post-16 learning indicated that they would have done so if they had received more support to cover the cost of transport’. Due to this, they may find it harder to find employment or progress in work, compared to their peers who have higher qualifications.
Inconsistency in careers advice provision in some areas is another issue which can impact on the level of young people who are NEET. Many careers guidance professionals believe that this issue is likely to affect more areas of the country due to the changes in careers guidance delivery under the new school statutory duty. The responsibility for providing career guidance has been transferred from local authorities to schools; however, they have been given no additional funding. This could reduce the quantity and quality of careers advice being given. However, there may be some uniquely rural barriers, as the new duty encourages schools/places of learning to pool together to share their resources, for example, pooling money to pay for a number of independent career guidance advisors to provide face-to-face guidance for schools in an area, as this will create economies of scale. In rural areas, however, schools are much more spread out, so independent careers providers will find economies of scale harder to achieve and so may be more likely not to engage in these areas. This may mean that schools in rural areas are unable to provide careers guidance in a cost-effective way, particularly where specialist knowledge on rural opportunities is required.
This change in careers guidance can also reduce the impartial nature that is needed with quality career advice. If schools get more pupils to undertake post-16 learning at their school then this could lead to more funding. Therefore, schools may point pupils towards post-16 learning at their establishment even if doesn’t provide the course or type of education that is best for the pupil. This could happen in rural areas as there could be fewer options for pupils in the area. This could lead to a higher drop-out rate or lower grades as they aren’t studying in the right environment or studying the correct subjects for them.
Finally, employment and training options are seen as a barrier for young people in rural areas to access, as rural labour markets are more likely to have sole trader or smaller businesses, seasonal work, transport issues and relatively lower wages. These factors can mean that there will be fewer options for young people to enter a workplace, and, if they do, there won’t be as many opportunities for progression up through the business. Also, these factors can mean that there is little incentive to train apprentices as they may have problems in releasing them for off-the-job training.
From discussing these barriers it is clear that there are some uniquely rural issues that are affecting young people’s ability to gain education, employment or training. There will, however, be uniquely urban barriers as well. For example, the competition for jobs or training courses will be much stronger.
CASCAiD can offer support for young people in rural areas, with our careers guidance program, aged at 13-19 year olds, Kudos. Kudos can help these young people access quality career guidance and information online so that they don’t have to battle with the transport barrier. Young people will enter their interests and Kudos will generate impartial, personalised career suggestions for them to explore. Pupils will be able to research into what subject best suit their career aims or their skills, to help them make an informed decision about their future education or employment, post-16 and post-18.
To read the report in full, please click here.
To access a free Kudos trial, please click this link.
Additionally, to sign up for a free demonstration webinar, please click here.