Youth NEET Contract Scheme – Raising employability through employers

So a further £126 million is being offered to businesses, charities and social enterprises to help re-engage 55,000 16-17 years olds who are NEET?

This figure is in addition to the £1b Youth Contract which, in turn, adds to the £3-5b Work Programme.

So what exactly is the “Ticking Time Bomb” as Nick Clegg so deftly put it? There are now an approximate 1.04million young people (age 16-24) who are not in employment, education or training; a figure which is growing and does not seem to be showing any signs of improvement. The Youth Contract Scheme is an initiative that hopes to help some of the harder to reach young people.

Referring to research on youth unemployment the government is concerned that “if young people lose the ambition, hope and optimism about working then they are likely to suffer long-term scarring effects”

The intention of this initiative is to encourage businesses, charities and social enterprises to take on 16-17 year olds who are disengaged and support them by developing their employability skills. This is designed to give them a chance to gain some valuable work experience in order to enhance their CV and work experiences.

If done well this initiative could make a difference to the lives and experiences of these young people. However, it has to be said that this is very reactive and does not actually get to the heart of the issue or provide any longer term strategic solutions..

Through the education bill the government removed the statutory provision for Careers Education, so that schools could choose what experiences their students have of the working world. Schools have the responsibility to deliver a bespoke curriculum based on the needs of their learners but have been given no financial support to do this at a time of austerity and budget cuts.

There is clear evidence that good work experience and good careers education can help young people to be motivated and prepared for the world of work. So, on one hand we remove the entitlement, only to be seen to give it back ten-fold. I am a little confused and think that I may not be the only one.

If we invested money and statutory responsibility in relevant and motivational careers education (by relevant I mean in line with economy and business voice), in ensuring every child developed literacy and numeracy skills, in helping schools to embrace their local employers and deliver a curriculum in partnership with the world of work then maybe the youth contract would have more substance and be much more focused on the needs that most people seem to be agreed upon.

Government rhetoric keeps telling us that they need to ‘boost the economy’. Surely having a skilled, motivated, literate workforce would make a significant contribution?

If you would like to listen to a BBC Northampton radio interview with Inspire2Exceed director, Laura-Jane Rawlings, talking about the recent Youth Contract initiative, click the play button below:

InspireEducation can support businesses looking to tender for the NEET Youth Contract – Click HERE for more information

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