C+K publishes Q2 Quarterly Monitoring Report 2021/22 (July-September)

Last month we published our Q2 Quarterly Monitoring Report 2021/22 (July-September) for Calderdale Council and Kirklees Council.

For the second year running, students left school without sitting traditional exams due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Whilst restrictions eased in 2021 compared to 2020, we are still seeing a picture where reduced employment and training opportunities are having a negative effect on the opportunities for some young people.

Q2 is traditionally a difficult quarter to collate and analyse figures as young people are still making decisions about their future and transitioning between education and training providers. In October 2021 we recorded that 1065 16/17 year olds across Calderdale and Kirklees were either not in education, employment or training (NEET) or Not Known. As a snapshot this is not entirely useful, as for many they will find this is only a temporary situation as they change college or shift from A levels to an apprenticeship.

‘NEET’ has become an acronym that is usually perceived negatively. However young people who are NEET are not a homogenous group and can’t be treated as such. Whilst our Q2 figures for ‘NEET and Not Known’ are as high as 13% (for October) compared with the 5.3% for September, the NEET/Not Known will come down as young people settle into the right learning outcomes for them.

However, there will still be a core cohort of long-term NEET we need to support.

We continue to see those without GSCE Grade 4 (or above) English and/or maths being susceptible to becoming long-term NEET. In addition, over 72% of this cohort have no qualifications above Level 2 (and 23% have no qualifications at all). Whilst there are obviously mitigating reasons why, lack of qualifications continues to be one of the key determinants in preventing a young person reaching a positive destination.

There are a number of other characteristics that those who are longer-term NEET share such as young offenders, looked after young people and care leavers, those with SEND, teenage parents and those facing any type of significant barriers (structural or personal) to impede their progress.

Alongside helping young people to understand the options/pathways available to them, much of our work focuses on helping them understand themselves better i.e., ‘what is holding them back?’ and implementing strategies to move forward. This is not a quick fix process, as before they are ready to look at options, we may need to work with them on issues such as housing needs, debt, family breakdown, mental health/anxiety and/or health problems. For young people facing these issues (trauma, deprivation, poverty etc), it is debilitating and for many it is therefore tremendously difficult to find the internal resources to begin the process of accessing and engaging in learning.

Only when we understand the barriers, can we start to remove them. To do this effectively we need to work with multiple partners – often at the same time. At times we are facilitators, sometimes we are advocates and sometimes we are a shoulder to cry on.

By adopting a multi-agency approach, and by facilitating regular conversations and meetings, potential problems can be quickly identified and dealt with effectively. We track, monitor and support every single young person who we know is NEET, and because our ‘Not Known’ figures are some of the lowest in the country, we can be confident that no one is left behind in getting the support they need in their career journey.

At C+K we are committed to supporting young people who are NEET. In the last quarter we have facilitated around 4000 interactions with vulnerable young people who are NEET – many of which took place in non-office environments and outside of traditional office hours.

2022: Equality of Opportunities

Throughout 2021 we have challenged ourselves to look at innovative ways that we can support young people to overcome their barriers. In January 2022, we will be launching a piece of work entitled ‘Equality of Opportunities’. Throughout the year we will be exploring all the factors that contribute to making a young person NEET and looking at ways that we can minimise them. We are aware that we can’t do this on our own, but we hope to use the work as a chance to create new strategic partnerships to tackle this.

Opportunities for young people are weighted towards the enthusiastic and the high achievers. We want to try and ‘level the playing field’ and demonstrate the benefits of equal opportunities for everyone – especially for those that are NEET or are at risk of becoming NEET.

Over the coming months we will be talking to partners and all our stakeholders to dig deeper into the issues around being NEET and look at what we can do to make the situation better. There is a significant social cost of having a proportion of our young people not in education, employment and training. We will be looking to calculate the financial cost of this and propose a series of recommendations that will help reduce it.

Have we sparked your interest?

If you share our commitment to supporting young people and/or if you would like to be involved in our ‘Equality of Opportunities’ work, please get in touch with your C+K contact or email us enquiries@ckcareers.co.uk.

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