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Agenda Item No

The Vale of Glamorgan Council

Cabinet Meeting : 17th June 2013

Report of the Cabinet Member for Children's Services

NEETs Strategy

Purpose of the Report

1. To seek Cabinet approval for the proposed Vale of Glamorgan NEET Strategy 2013-2015.

Recommendations

1. That Cabinet approves the Vale of Glamorgan NEET Strategy 2013-2015.

Reasons for the Recommendations

1. The Council's NEET Strategy has been updated to reflect changes in the labour market profile and the requirements of the Welsh Government Engagement and Progression Framework.

Background

2. NEET can be defined as a statistical category relating to a group of young people who are not in education, employment or training. In response to the increasing profile being given to the NEETs and worklessness agenda, an overarching Strategic Group and an Operational Group were established to develop and coordinate services. They are primarily concerned with prevention and the development of interventions for young people classified as NEET. The original strategy (devised in 2008) has been revised to take into account the global labour market profile of young people and the current policy development from Welsh Government of the Engagement and Progression Framework.

3. In Wales this strategy sits within the context of Extending Entitlement: supporting young people in Wales in particular to their right to Education and employment. The strategy is also in response to the publication ‘Delivering Skills that Work for Wales: Reducing the Proportion of Young People Not in Education, Employment or Training’, which sets out how Welsh Government intends to support young people not in education, employment or training.

4. The scope of the strategy is to engage with young people from the age of 11-24, however, specific focus will be on the 16-17 age group. It details the steps that will need to be taken to ensure as many young people as possible choose to stay in learning or where appropriate to enter good quality employment post 16.

5. WG has identified a need to ensure efficient processes are in place for identifying and engaging young people who are at risk of leaving education and training early. This means we will need to improve information sharing nationally and locally. WG are also keen to see a full range of learning options to meet the needs of young people including learning support and careers advice and guidance so that young people have the skills they need to access education, training or employment.

6. This strategy will be the catalyst for the development for Early Identification system which will be used by Education, Careers Wales and Youth Services to share/use data and local intelligence to enable early intervention with young people identified as being at risk of becoming NEET.

7. The strategy will be implemented by the NEET Strategic Group. The group reports to the Learning and Skills Partnership, which is part of the LSB's strategic partnership structure. The NEET Strategy Group is chaired by the Principal Youth Officer. It has representatives from Cardiff and Vale College, Vale of Glamorgan Council Youth Service, Education Welfare Service and Youth Offending Service, the Children and Young People's Partnership, Learning and Skills Partnership, 14-19 Network, Careers Wales and local training providers.

8. The Group has recently refreshed the NEETs Strategy document for 2013-15, the draft strategy is attached at Appendix 1. The aim of the strategy is to ensure that as many young people as possible make positive careers choices post 16 and in doing so reduce the number of NEET young people. The focus is on improving outcomes for young people at risk of becoming disengaged in education, employment or training. The Strategy is linked to the Corporate Improvement Plan Objective 8 (Appendix 2).

Relevant Issues and Options

9. NEET levels for 16-18 have steadily been improving year on year both locally and nationally. This is in contrast with the levels of NEET 19-24 which have been increasing due to the economic climate and its well publicised affect on youth unemployment globally. It is therefore crucial that we develop and improve training and employment opportunities for those young people in transition between full time education and work and thus attempt to reduce the continuing increase in the level of post 18 NEET.

10. On 23rd April 2013, the Minister for Education and Skills announced the requirement for local authorities to implement a framework from September 2013 aimed at supporting young people into sustained engagement, training and employment. The Engagement and Progression Framework has 6 building blocks:

  • Early identification of young people at risk of disengagement;
  • Brokerage of co-ordination and support;
  • Comprehensive tracking of young people through the system and information sharing;
  • Provision and progression aligned with the needs of young people including mapping of available provision;
  • Progression into employment and employment opportunities;
  • Accountability for continuous improvement and stronger collaboration.

11. The intention will be to develop an implementation plan derived from the framework and to begin introduction of performance measurement in September 2013. It is expected that all Local Authorities in Wales will have a responsibility for the reduction of NEET. It is intended that this strategy will be able to respond to the demands of Welsh Government future policy.

12. In support of this strategy a Youth Service Welsh Government Revenue Grant has been reconfigured to have a direct focus on those young people deemed at risk and help reduce the number of NEETs in the Vale. The Youth Service is currently developing working arrangements with schools to provide early intervention strategies for young people who are at risk of becoming NEET 

13. The 14-19 Network has been responsible for work which has been very significant in providing increased choice and progression opportunities for hundreds of learners in the Vale, helping to reduce the number of young people not engaged. This includes college courses shared and mixed classes in schools, expanding volunteering opportunities, extended work experience and pre and post 16 Learning Coach supports. From April 2013 this funding is being allocated on a regional basis rather than locally: a small increase in additional funds for provision and support has been secured for 2013-14. However the future sustainability of this funding is uncertain beyond 2013/14.

14. Withdrawal of this funding would have an effect on learners as some 2 year courses may not be able to be completed due to funding ceasing part way through periods of study. The funding also supports two Learning Coach roles, one of whom intervenes pre 16 and directs young people at risk to alternative education other than school and one post 16 who is seconded to Careers Wales and works directly with young people aged 16-19 identified as economically inactive.

15. Careers Wales [CW] chair the NEET Operational Group which brings together training providers, youth providers and seeks to develop new initiatives and provision for NEET young people. The CW 5 Tier Model (Appendix 3) provides a framework for information gathering and sharing. This consists of monthly NEETs statistics showing the total number of young people in a cohort, those who have positively engaged, those perceived as at risk of becoming NEET, those known to be registered with CW as NEET and those who remain unknown at any given point. It will be essential for the local authority to develop a set of vulnerability indicators and to work closely with CW to ensure potential NEET young people are identified early and appropriate provision is in place to meet their needs and prevent them becoming NEET.

16. The strategy will be reliant on the Statutory Youth Service as a key service to employ its diverse project and centre based work in NEET reduction. It has expertise is in formal and informal work with all young people with a specific emphasis on young people at risk. In addition, the Youth Service has re-established a Youth Provider Network (YPN) with the aim of sharing information resources and expertise to provide a collaborative approach to addressing the NEET issues.

17. The Education Welfare Service addresses education and non-attendance issues in schools. Education Welfare Officers (EWO) are based in schools. The Alternative Learning Support Programme Coordinator supports young people into appropriate learning provision with one of five local training providers. These officers identify and target those at risk pre 16, and have had a positive effect in significantly reducing the number of non-attendees.

18. The implementation of the strategy in its revised format will provide a platform for the co-ordination of NEET provision, monitoring of provider performance and ensure the engagement and progression of young people from school into education, employment or training.

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)

19. NEET is being given a high level of priority at the national level. Welsh Government will direct local government to take a more strategic and brokerage role. If appropriate training and or employment opportunities are to be developed with partners, financial resources will be needed. If any loss or reduction of the 14-19 funding is applied much of the intervention described in this report could not be sustained. The possible loss of funding would also affect several members of staff currently engaged in the delivery of services, who are subject to grant support for employment.

Sustainability and Climate Change Implications

20. There are no sustainability or climate change implications arising from this report.

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

21. The Council has no direct responsibility for learners post 18 years, however the Local Authority does have legal responsibilities under various legislation including the following:

  • The Children Act 1989 and Leaving Care Act 2000 in respect of relevant children, The Children and Young Persons Act 2008 has inserted provision into the Children Act 1989 permitting certain young people who were formerly looked after by Local Authority to reconnect to care for the purpose of pursing education or training and Local Authority responsibilities pursuant to those duties to provide support remains available for young people up to the age of 25 or beyond if their education or training programme continues beyond that age.

    22. There is a clear expectation that Adult Social Services Departments will engage effectively in transition planning for disabled young people. The Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act sets out that in relation to disabled people there is a responsibility on Local Authority to make provision for lectures, games, outings or other recreational facilities outside a persons home or assistance to that person in taking advantage of educational facilities available to him. This includes the provision of specific educational facilities that the assessment of needs identifies as being necessary and support to enable the disabled person to access education in relation to disabled persons.

    23. The Local Authority has a duty to comply with the Equality Act 2010.

    Crime and Disorder Implications

    24. The range of issues associated with young people in the NEET category comprises low educational attainment, homelessness, gang membership, early criminalisation, drug culture and dependency, care needs, teenage pregnancy, prostitution and, in many or even most cases, multiple and overlapping disadvantage, for example, pregnancy, drug dependency and crime.

    Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

    25. Some young people 19 + with Additional Learning Needs or who are leaving care may due to specialist access requirements and learning support needs have difficulties accessing EET opportunities outside of Council control. As some training providers may not have sufficient resource to accommodate them. As set out above the Local Authority have duties under various legislation including the Equality Act 2010.

    Corporate/Service Objectives

    26. Corporate Improvement Objective 8 Learning and Skills Service Plan Outcome 1 Objective 3. Learning and Skills Service Plan Outcome 2 Objective 6 and 8. Community Strategy CYP/A2.8, CSLS/A4, CSCYP/A5.2.

    Policy Framework and Budget

    27. This is a matter for Executive decision.

    Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

    28. Not applicable.

    Relevant Scrutiny Committee

    29. Lifelong Learning.

    Background Papers

    None.

    Contact Officer

    Andrew Borsden, Principal Youth Officer

    Officers Consulted

    Paula Ham, Head of Strategic Planning and Performance

    Mark Davies, Children and Young People's Partnership Manager

    Nisha Shukla, Learning and Skills Officer

    Responsible Officer:

    Jennifer Hill, Chief Learning and Skills Office

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