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Rhian Johns
Director of Policy and Campaigns, Impetus-Private Equity Foundation
Rhian  Johns

No more NEETS!

Authors: Rhian Johns Rhian Johns, Director of Policy & Campaigns Impetus – The Private Equity Foundation

10 September 2013

It’s that time of year again, the start of the party conference season. For the second year running, Impetus – The Private Equity Foundation (Impetus – PEF) will be partnering with The Work Foundation and hosting fringe events at the three conferences. With the title: ‘Lost in transition’, we will discuss how to ensure every young person leaves education with the qualifications, skills and experiences they need to transition successfully into the labour market.

Rather than waiting until young people become NEET (Not in Education, Employment, Training) let’s change the narrative; let’s stop talking about a ‘lost generation’ and lazy out of work youth and instead focus on ensuring every young person makes a successful transition from education into employment. Successful school to work transitions mean no more NEETS!

Young people’s time in education must reflect the changing needs of the labour market if they are to make a successful transition from school to work, with focus placed on both achieving better qualifications and having the skills and work experience today’s employers require. At our fringe event, I’ll discuss five policy changes we believe are required to bridge the gap between school and work:

1. Sustained support through education and the transition into employment – We need to do more in order to adequately support young people every step of the way: from making the right GCSE decisions and into their first job or further learning.
2. All young people must have experiences of the world of work – Quality of provision must be ensured and, while at school, every young person should be given multiple opportunities to meet and hear from employers, experience different work environments, and have high-quality work experience.
3. Experiences offered by traineeships and apprenticeships are valued – Both traineeships and apprenticeships are expanding, although more needs to be done to ensure young people benefit from these increases. Employers, schools, parents and young people need to be better informed about these vocational routes into work as valuable alternatives to academic pathways.
4. Better integration between schools and their local labour market – Local issues must be at the heart of careers information, advice and guidance. We recommend every school should have a “local business governor” responsible for building links between local businesses and the school and for providing up-to-date information about job opportunities and skills, qualifications and experiences required to succeed in the labour market.
5. Funding to flow to interventions proven to be most effective – Social investment and payment by results are ways to ensure taxpayers are only paying for successful outcomes.

Our hope is that like us, our politicians will be focused on fixing youth unemployment. With one million young people currently unemployed in the UK it is critical that this issue is at the top of the political agenda. However, politicians cannot fix this alone. We believe it’s time for government, employers, Social sector organisations, schools, parents and young people to collaborate – we all have a role to play.

If you are unable to join us in person, join in the discussion on twitter #school2work

Comments in Chronological Order (Total 2 Comments)

David Lett

12 Sep 2013 7:44AM

I very much endorse the policy initiatives that Rhian advocates because my experience "on the ground" and working with young people proves such initiatives can work – if you work out how to make them work.

I do feel that we need to focus more on the HOW to make these policy initiatives work in real life. I read a huge amount of what is needed but very little from people who have practical experience of actually delivering at the coal face and working with young people themselves - this is what New Meaning is focused on.

Take our Pro-Active Life Skills framework - it is focused on helping young people make sense of themselves, who they are and based on what they have experienced in their lives thus far. In having worked with over 2,000 young people over the past 7 years we find that many are struggling to simply make sense of their lives (why do I feel like I do) and this is such a focus for them that they struggle to even contemplate next steps or choices.

Another demonstration of a HOW relates to Rhian's point 4 - we have been running a pilot project (which has just been extended for 12 months based on the success of the previous 3 months) whereby we facilitate an enable school students (year 10and 11) to create their own going concern social enterprises. They get to directly experience the word of work by establishing their own enterprise ventures - the results in terms of strengthening student confidence, motivation and initiative have been very encouraging and the local business community have quickly embraced and supported the project.

I am an ideas person and believe that Rhian's ideas above are spot on; however, the single toughest challenge that I have faced over the past 7 years is working out HOW to make my ideas workable and beneficial to the young people themselves. This has been a tough challenge to say the least and we now have some fantastic stories to tell and that demonstration that the HOW can be found.

Go well ..... be bold

New Meaning

Helping people grow from strength to strength

Jo Wilcox

24 Sep 2013 8:20PM

Speaking from the front line - in 6th form college, I'd suggest going even further. If there's no funding attached to a non-examined activity, it gets squeezed from the curriculum. Guidance provision was slashed a few years ago. Funding formula changes now mean that we are funded per learner rather than per course, but guidance is still the poor relation because funds are not ringfenced. Allocate and ringfence funds for careers guidance, and more importantly, make a certain number of hours of work experience compulsory for a student to get full time funding. Then put funding into getting employers on board with work experience. Bring back Connexions and specialist advisers to work with the local business governor. Also, progression data must be included in headline stats for league tables etc.

We teachers do what we can but we are so pressured to get the grades that we just don't have the contact time with students, the preparation time to make links with employers or the specialist knowledge that our dedicated careers advisers used to have. This problem needs more than good intentions thrown at it.