Youth and the transition from education to employment

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It is no wonder in our modernised society that some youths will cope with the transitions from education to training or employment far better. Inequalities in education start at school age; Some parents being able to afford 'private' education and other parents shopping around for schools with the best 'league tables' (Furlong and Cartmel , 1997) This combined with differing levels of parent and peer support will undoubtedly make it harder for some to cope with some transitions (Coleman, J.C.,& Hendry, L.B., 1999)

Transitions can be defined as a definitive moment in someones life and for a young person this can be applied to the emergence into adulthood. Coles (1995) defines three inter-related transitions made by young people. These are 'school to work transition', a 'domestic transition' in which they gain a family of their own in the form of a partner etc then finally a 'housing transition' in which they move residences from the parental household.

New social and political structures have shaped the path for a change in transitional periods of a young person's life and as a result these periods have become blurred. There now is no clear definition of where childhood ends and adulthood begins. In their book Furlong and Cartmel describe changing patterns of dependency in which today's young adults are dependent on parents for longer and find themselves moving back and forth from the parent home up to the period of early to middle adulthood. An example of this is university. A young person may leave home for a period of time whilst at university but move back into the family home when the course has finished thus being dependent on parents once again. With changes to post 16 education and economic recession young people have never been faced with so many challenges. Not only are they now faced with the emotional difficulties that the transition to adulthood and independence can bring. They now struggle with the uncertainty of finding employment and gaining entry onto training schemes. This is particularly true but not specific to young people with parents who are a working class or lower class background. There has been research to suggest these young people are more likely to drop out of education at a younger age.( REFERENCE) Because of this reason they are less likely to have the social and academic skills to further their training and often end up looking for unskilled jobs. Economic recession and technological change has removed may unskilled jobs (Crompton, R 2006) thus school leavers have came up against increasing difficulties in securing a place in the job market. This is especially true for especially in areas such as South Wales which rely on industrial and manufacturing trade for economy growth.

This has meant that there have been an increased number of young people who are not positively engaged in society. Consequently, these young people have been labelled by the government as NEET (Not in education, employment or training). A significant number of policies and strategies have been drawn up in order to tackle prevention and reduction of young people who are NEET. One such policy is the Welsh assembly Governments 'Reducing the Proportion of young people not in education, employment or training in Wales'. Or for the benefit of this essay (Reducing the proportion of young people who are NEET) By looking at this policies take on strategies needed to reduce and prevent the number of young people who are NEET in Wales, this essay will elaborate on the need for defining and prioritising individuals rather than broadly categorising young people into labelled groups. It will also look at education as mediator for the prevention of becoming NEET. Finally, the essay will examine the views of the policy and academics in relation to these needs.

Targets in the governments paper 'Transforming youth work' set out the guidelines for the categorization of NEET. A NEET is someone under 25 who are in employment for less than 16 hours a week and who is not in education or training. . It is important to recognise that young people who are NEET are not a homogenous group with the same issues, and that they are not even necessarily at the same stage of disengagement (REFERENCE). Being NEET refers young people who have disengaged from education or are unable to find employment. But also, it refers to young people who may be taking a gap year from university, have family care responsibilities or disabilities. It is hard then, to understand how all these categories of young people can be addressed in a single policy.

NEET is a word that has come up against criticism since first being used in 1999. Some feel that along with other negative labels such as ASBO, hooded youth, gang culture etc that NEET is a misleading negative association with today's youth. (MAYBE REFERENCE) Others have criticised the ability to solve the problem of young people being out of work and education if we label young people instead of treating them as individuals. The Welsh education minister, Leighton Andrews, said, "There is no one solution which will encourage young people to engage with education, or to help all of those out of work to get back into the

Labour market. One thing we do know is that labelling them and categorising them without

Consideration for their individual needs is not going to help them have a prosperous and

Successful future." (AS CITED BY ETC) Yates and Payne argue that argue that NEET as a label is problematic in that it defines what young people 'are not' instead of recognizing that these young people come from varied difficulties and situations (Yates, s & Payne, M 2008)

The policy reducing the proportion of young people who are NEET addresses this issue by considering it as an implication and offering suggestions to combat the generalisation of the term neet. The policy suggests that young people who are NEET are put in to one of three definitive groups. 'Core NEET', 'Floating or at Risk NEET' and 'Transition/Gap year NEET'. This will help define priorities and give a brief understanding that young people who are neet must be treated as individuals rather than a homogeneous group. It also outlines the need for sufficient processes to define young people who are NEET and create 'Bespoke solutions for support'. Again, ensuring the needs of young people are met as individuals. The policy also addresses the problem with current statistics of young people who are NEET. The problem being that the group classed as neet is so diverse it is nearly impossible to include everyone young person not in work or education in it. For example, statistics from benefits agencies and education departments will not necessarily include those who are on a gap year. The policy proposes that working with agencies and partnerships will gain a better understanding of statistics of those who are NEET. Consequently this will create efficiency in targeting actions at members of the NEET group that require additional levels of support.

Education bit

The policy 'Reducing the proportion of young people who are neet' is in agreement with government consensus that making improvements to the education system to make it accessible to all is one of the most important steps in reducing the amount of young people who are NEET. Policies suggest that most of young people who are most likely to have damaging periods of NEET are the people who have disengaged from education largely due to learning difficulties, troubled home lives and exclusion. Consequently, in recent years there have been a number of initiatives introduced to keep young people in full time education for longer. Implementation of EMA [i] (education maintenance allowance) which is an incentive aimed at young people who come from low socio-economic background saw a 4% rise in the number of young people who stayed in post - 16 education and Learning centres where young people will be able to undertake A- Levels and vocational qualifications in a less formal environment that doesn't offer the restraints of sixth form have been proposed to encourage young people to stay in or indeed return to full time education. These changes are in line with The policy 'reducing the proportion of young people who are neet'. The policy recognises that early intervention is crucial toward prevention of young people dropping out of education and therefore not becoming neet. A study found that A lack of flexibility in the curriculum and in the selection of options is criticized by some young people as preventing them from making the best of their educational opportunities (Gardiner, J 2006)

The policy has taken this on board and recognised that traditional methods of education may not work for everyone (another reference to recognising youths as individuals) so has proposed to provide broader, more flexible learning options towards education.

Krauss argued that education may not be the best solution to reduce the number of young people who are neet as it still doesn't address the fact that when the transition from education to employment is a hard one. She feels that the first few years in employment is an imperative time on your C.V. Employers are less likely to offer employment to those who have large periods of time out of work. Therefore, government initiatives to keep young people in education for longer could be postponing the problem instead of solving it.(Krauss as cited by Davis, R 2009)

Although prevention is better than cure the fact that there is a large percentage of young people who are already 'core' neet cannot be ignored. And there is evidence to suggest and incentives s the ones previously talked about will not benefit young people who have already disengaged from education. Maguire and Robinson examined the effectiveness of a government scheme to keep young people in full time education by paying them EMA. The research suggested that the scheme was ineffective at getting young people who have already entered NEET back into full time education. The authors suggest that this is down to the fact that NEETS are usually young people who have disengaged from school due to expulsion, learning difficulties or disinterest. Therefore it is no wonder that these young people neglect the schemes, even if they had been aware of them in the first place (Robson 2008) minister of education statement.

As at end 2007, 11.5 per cent of 16-18 year olds were NEET (14,000) compared with 9.8 per cent (12,000) in 2006

. Yates, S. & Payne, M. (2006) 'Not so NEET? A critique of the use of "NEET" in targeting interventions with young people,' Journal of Youth Studies, 9(3), pp.329-344

Roweena Davis This article is published in the 26 February edition of Community Care under the headline "Meet the Neets

Jo Gardiner.  (1998). Learning, education and skills: Young people's views. Education & Training, 40(4/5), 202-205.  Retrieved December 16, 2010, from ProQuest Psychology Journals. (Document ID: 120622778).

Furlong, A. and Cartmel, F. (1997) Young people and social change: Individualisation and risk in the age of high modernity, Buckingham: Open University Press.

J. Coleman & L. B. Hendry The Nature of Adolescence (3rd Edn.) London: Routledge , 1999

Coles, B. (1995) Youth and Social Policy, Youth citizenship and young careers, Routledge: London.

Department for Education and Skills (2002) Transforming Youth Work - resourcing excellent youth services, London: Department for Education and Skills/Connexions.

Becoming NEET in Europe: A Comparison of Predictors and Later-Life Outcomes

Paper presented at the Global Network on Inequality Mini-Conference on February 22,

2008 in New York City.

Dr. Karen Robson