The potential futures of young people beyond the age 16 have received much attention in the media in recent months. Predominantly the spotlight has fallen on those young people not in education employment and training, or NEETs as there are often known, but there are also a substantial number of young people in another category known as JWTs or those in jobs without any element of nationally recognised training. The Government has set in place legislation to raise the participation age to 17 by 2013 and then to 18 by 2015, and responsibility for the commissioning of the education and training of 14-19 year olds is currently in transition away from the Learning and Skills Council and into the hands of Local Authorities. A key challenge for Local Authorities in their new role will be to identify, engage and support those young people who, for a wide variety of reasons, have struggled to connect with or maintain their participation in education and training.
At the start of 2009 Professor Tony Kelly and Chris Downey from the School of Education were commissioned to conduct a wide-ranging research project into the patterns in non-participation by young people across one local authority.
The first phase of the research involved combining a data set from the local Connexions service, containing information on the post-16 destinations of over 8000 young people, with data detailing the pre-16 academic profile and demographic data for the same young people. This large scale data merger facilitated analysis of the patterns in both participation and non-participation in education and training as influenced by a range of factors including gender, area of residence, secondary school attended, academic attainment and progress between 11-16, level of additional educational need and a range of socio-economic indicators. One particular group that emerged from the extensive analysis of the data were those young people who had embarked on a programme of full-time education in school or further education (FE) settings at 16+ but had moved into the non-participation categories of NEET or JWT category by 17+.
The second phase of the research involved conducting focus groups in a number of locations across the authority with a sample those young people who had disengaged from education and training in order to identify their reasons for moving into non-participation after only a year of study. Analysis of the responses together with their pre 16 academic profile has revealed important issues related to the differential effectiveness of the support, advice and guidance that young people receive, both to inform their choices at age 14 and 16 and after embarking on their post-16 programme of study.
The emerging themes have informed the future policy and decision making of the 14-19 Team working in the Local Authority.
Funding body: Regional Local Authority.