As I write, many of the first tranche of young people required to stay in learning until the age of 17 will be embarking on the next important stage of their careers.
This marks a key milestone in the government’s drive to cut the number of young people classed as not in education, employment or training (Neet) – 922,000 (12.7%) of 16 to 24 year-olds, according to the latest figures.
A range of initiatives have been introduced in recent years to help tackle the issues surrounding youth unemployment. Among these is the September Guarantee – a government-led pledge to ensure that everyone leaving school this year, or who left last year, is offered a guaranteed place in learning (education, an apprenticeship or a training or employment opportunity which includes learning) by the end of September.
So, how can authorities ensure that young people in their area are being offered the education or training opportunities they are entitled to?
To meet their responsibilities under the September Guarantee, authorities need to know the proposed destination of the young people in their area before they move on and schools are required to record this information for reporting purposes. With the right technology in place, the data can be transferred electronically and automatically into the authority’s computer system, giving staff the detail they need quickly and simply.
By analysing this data, authorities can identify those young people who are still undecided or intend to move into an opportunity without learning. They can then focus their resources on helping these young people to find opportunities that include learning and thus, fulfil their September Guarantee obligation.
Fewer young people falling through the net
Work has taken place in some areas to strengthen links between the authority and local institutions such as sixth form and further education colleges, training providers and even employers, with the aim of ensuring young people get the qualifications and skills they need after leaving school. Better data sharing is at the heart of this.
In these authorities, information from colleges, training providers and other relevant organisations is shared regularly with authority staff, allowing them to quickly see which young people have taken up the opportunities offered to them while they were still in school. Importantly, they will also get a clear picture of who has not turned up for their college course or apprenticeship.
Having access to more information in this way allows authorities to follow up those young people who are not where they are expected to be, for whatever reason. Staff can then take appropriate action to get them back on track.
It is vital that authorities have the information and tools they need to ensure that no young person falls through the net. This will be key to their success in reducing the number who end up Neet in the future.