Report calls for greater promotion of vocational routes to tackle NEETs

A lack of awareness about vocational training may be stopping youngsters securing long-term, sustainable employment, according to a new report.

Published by the Association of Employment and Learning Providers (AELP) and learning company Pearson, the report examines the trend of young people being ‘not in employment or training’ – known as NEET – unless they find grounding in the form of an apprenticeship or other training route.

The report – Routes into Work – it’s alright for some – finds that there is a lack of awareness among young people about traineeships and suggests the programme needs to be better promoted.

 

Simplified funding

In addition, more 16 to 24-year-olds could access apprenticeships if the funding system was simpler and more responsive to demand, the report says. The latest quarterly figures show an increase in apprenticeship starts among the age group of just 4,000 compared with a year before.

The report recommends that the government forms a cross-departmental steering group to tackle the still-high numbers of NEET youngsters.

There were 853,000 NEETs aged 16 to 24 from October to December 2015, and while this was 110,000 – some 1.4 per cent – less than a year earlier, the report argues that the fall is “frustratingly slow”, especially when overall job vacancy levels are high.

 

Other key recommendations include:

  • to ensure that the provision replacing the Work Programme is flexible to accommodate young people with multiple barriers to work – particularly those who are economically inactive.
  • to prioritise funding for adult skills training, including English and maths, for the young unemployed and deploy ESF funding effectively to support young peoples’ transitions to training and work.
  • to undertake research into young people’s knowledge of the labour market in the sector they want to enter, and into whether the current structure of vocational training is fit for purpose.

Commenting on the report’s findings, AELP policy director Paul Warner said: “The report highlights that 88 per cent of apprenticeship completers remain in their jobs and that early results from the Traineeship programme show very promising signs of progression for the young people on them.

“Yet starts in apprenticeships for 19 to 24-year-olds fell by 3 per cent in the first quarter of 2015-16 compared with the same period in the year before.

 

Government stifling growth

“Government delays in responding to training providers’ growth funding requests at the end of last year and more recently in respect of 16 to 18 apprenticeships are bound to be a factor in limiting any acceleration in growth, so evidenced new demand from employers and young people needs to be funded if we are to get the NEET figures down faster.”

Lesley Davies, senior VP at Pearson, added: “This report contains very valuable analysis on some of the challenges facing young people as they look for work or education.

“We need to explore further why the hour-glass pattern for skills is emerging with not enough progression to level 3 and above and there needs to be a concerted effort by government, employers, providers and others to raise awareness among young people about the high quality vocational learning routes that are available to them.”