What support works best for young people at risk of NEET?

young personIn today’s society, every young person deserves to be happy, healthy and confident about their future.  For most young people, the transition from school to further education, training or employment is positive. However, there is a significant number of young people who, without targeted support, are at risk of becoming NEET (Not in Education Employment or Training)?

Evidence shows that once someone becomes NEET, it can become far harder for them to re-engage with the education system or the employment network.  Periods of inactivity and unemployment in early adulthood have been shown to have lasting negative effects on future employment prospects and earnings, as well as an increased risk of poor health. (OECD, 2015).

There are a variety of potentially complex reasons for why these young people find the transition from school to be challenging. For example, they may have a lack of awareness or understanding of the potential opportunities available, the absence of a role model or low self-esteem.  However, with early intervention we can work with these young people to provide support and ways of addressing these challenges and so help reduce the numbers of young people becoming NEET.

How do we put support in place?

Identifying those young people ‘at risk’ of NEET early, and intervening as soon as possible are key; this gives the young person the best chance of remaining in education or training, reducing the risk of them disengaging.  Fortunately, many schools now adopt a strategic approach to help identify those ‘at risk’ of becoming NEET, which include:

  • Monitoring attendance
  • Identifying changes in behaviour and attitude to school
  • A greater understanding of family situation.

Once those young people have been identified as being ‘at risk’, they can be offered targeted support to address the barriers to learning and engagement.

This support should include:

  • High quality one-to-one support alongside a CEIAG (Careers Education Information Advice and Guidance) programme of activities to enable the young person to gain the knowledge and skills required to make informed choices, manage the transition from school into further education or training (such as an apprenticeship) and to plan their future career.
  • Encouragement of parental involvement at key transition points, providing them with the advice and guidance needed to support their child with a positive transition.
  • Access to high quality, impartial careers advice.

How can a careers adviser help?

There is no magic formula and the key to providing effective support for those young people identified as being ‘at risk’ of becoming NEET is to be flexible in our approach.  Each young person is an individual and no two people have the same barriers or challenges.

The key to providing effective support for those young people identified as being ‘at risk’ of becoming NEET is to be flexible in our approach.

As part of the Support4Progression project run by Ideas4Careers, I work with young people identified as being at risk of becoming NEET throughout the whole of Year 11 and support them in making a successful transition to further education or training.  Given the time to build a relationship, I support the young person in identifying their potential barriers and help empower them to move forward and take more control of their futures. I try to understand the interests and passions of each client and work with them to help to raise their awareness of potential opportunities or paths they may wish to pursue. This results in the development of clear, personalised action plans that are reviewed with the young person on a regular basis.

This continued support helps the young person understand that they are not on their own through this transition and that they do have support available to them, so giving them the confidence and motivation to help them to move forwards in their lives.

Successful projects like Support4Progression have shown that with early intervention and targeted support, there is a clear route to reducing the number of young people becoming NEET. This is something that we should all take seriously and so avoid the potential downstream impacts both on the economic implications for society in general and also on the young person, giving them the opportunity to have a brighter future and to make a positive contribution to the world in which they live.

About the author

Michelle Dowling joined Ideas4Careers in 2017. With 18 years’ experience of working with young people in educational and community settings, Michelle is committed to working with young people to raise aspirations and reduce the numbers who become NEET.