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Agenda Item No 6

 

The Vale of Glamorgan Council

 

Scrutiny Committee (Lifelong Learning): 23rd May 2013

 

Report of the Chief Learning and Skills Officer

 

NEETs Provision in the Vale of Glamorgan

 

Purpose of the Report

1.             To update Members on developments with young people identified as NEET in both the Vale of Glamorgan and at a National level.

Recommendations

1.             That Members consider progress to date on reducing the level of young people identified as NEET and the measures in place to secure further improvement.

2.             That Members consider the possible implications of the National Engagement and Progression Framework.

Reasons for the Recommendations

1.             Members are aware of the continued priority being given to preventing young people in the Vale of Glamorgan from becoming NEET.

2.             The framework places new responsibilities on local authorities in respect of reducing NEETS, however, it is not supported by additional funding.

Background

2.             NEET can be defined as a statistical category relating to a group of young people who are not in education 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, which are primarily concerned with the prevention and intervention of young people classified as NEET.

3.             The NEET Strategic Group reports to the Learning and Skills Partnership, which is part of the LSB's strategic partnership structure.  The NEETs 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.

4.             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 reducing 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).

5.             A representative from Careers Wales [CW] chairs the NEET Operational Group which brings together training providers, youth providers and seeks to develop new initiatives and provision for NEET young people.  The 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. The model is considered at each meeting, together with an update on the data.  Figures vary monthly dependant on young people engaging with education or training opportunities

6.             CW also undertakes an annual Destination Survey of all Year 11 pupils. This report is distributed widely and is available on its website.  It is used as a National indicator and allows comparisons across local authorities. This data can also be broken down to highlight individual schools in a comparable format (Appendix 4). This type of analysis allows both schools and other support services to target provision to those deemed more in need.

7.             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.

8.             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 (Appendix 5).

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.        A Youth Service Welsh Government Revenue Grant is currently being 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. Young people are identified in Years 8 and 9 by the school on attendance levels, behaviour, attitudes to learning and emotional literacy. Support for schools is flexible and is driven by the needs of the learners. The purpose of the intervention is to provide ongoing support for young people and to prevent them dropping out of mainstream provision and becoming NEET. Through a partnership with Urdd Gobiath Cymru support for Welsh Medium schools is also available.

11.        Many young people aged 16-24 are NEET due to isolation and lack of services in rural areas. Employment options, education services, training providers and Careers Advisors are based in the Barry area and transport costs for young people make accessing these services difficult. Mobile provision is being developed to take information, advice and guidance (IAG) to young people in their communities. The mobile service (VPOD) will be used in partnership with Job Centre Plus, and Careers Wales to engage with young people and provide IAG and links to education, training and employment services.

12.        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 support.  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.

13.        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 CW and works directly with young people aged 16-19 identified as economically inactive. The support given is very successful, however the uncertainty of the future of 14-19 funding raises the question of whether this essential function and service can be sustained in the future. Welsh Government have not yet announced any indication on the way forward or offered any solutions to this issue. .

14.        Many Families First funded projects support the work with NEETs. These include Gateway to Engagement (25-35 students per year) and the Partnership for Young Parents which targets young mothers (15 per year) and is run in partnership with Flying Start. The transition from Cymorth to Families First funding has changed the way this funding can be used and has led to a move away from individual projects to working around a whole family.

15.        Through Communities First funding several initiatives have been approved to deliver targeted work within the cluster areas, the three main themes are: Learning Communities, Prosperous Communities and Healthy Communities. Within Learning Communities, 3 projects will commence to help target those not in education, employment or training.

16.        The Statutory Youth Service has a key role to play in its diverse project and centre based work. This allows 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. The Youth Service administers, develops, monitors and supports the network and helps ensure a more joined up approach to youth support services across the authority.

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.        Welsh Government have revamped the contracting process for training provision both pre and post 18. The full implications of this remain unknown, although early indications do not appear to be negative to potential users. Recent changes in Work Based Learning have led to additional opportunities within the Traineeship Programme. Funding is available for both the engagement strand and Level 1 learning. The Traineeship programme is driven by learner outcomes, particularly in relation to progression into employment or further/higher learning/training.

19.        The Vale of Glamorgan Council delivers a work programme on behalf of Rehab Jobfit via a subcontract for post 18 year olds. The service is for eligible customers referred by Job Centre Plus between ages of 18 and 60.  The length of the programme is 2 years, minimum engagement with customers is one intervention per fortnight, with the aim of moving customers into sustainable employment – 16 hours per week or more.  Since June 2011, over 228 18 to 24 year olds have been referred to programme of which 84 were NEET. The number of 18-24 year olds claiming Job Seekers Allowance in the Vale of Glamorgan in March 2013 was 830 (7.57%) down 0.73% on December 2012.  Claimants are referred to different provisions based on their individual circumstances.

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)

20.        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

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

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

22.        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.

·         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.

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

·         Further the Local Authority and duties under the United Nations Convention and Rights of the Child and the Education Act 1996 in relation to children who are leaving care or have additional learning needs.

Crime and Disorder Implications

23.        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)

24.        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 has duties under various legislation including the Equality Act 2010.

Corporate/Service Objectives

25.        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

26.         This falls within the Policy Framework and Budget.

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

27.        Not applicable.

Relevant Scrutiny Committee

28.        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 Officer

 

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