Research shows we must pay now or we'll pay more later for youth crisis

Feb 01, 2012
Research shows we must pay now or we'll pay more later for youth crisis

A comprehensive report published today by the University of Bristol Centre for Market and Public Organisation and Tomorrow’s People shows a worrying increase in the number of young NEET individuals – one of the most economically vulnerable groups in society.

The report, The Early Bird... Preventing from Becoming a NEET Statistic, reveals that the number of NEET young people has been rising over the past decade, well before the current economic crisis began, compounding fears that this is a long-term structural problem within the UK and not just a short-term trend attributed to a poor economy. Government figures released last week continue to paint a dire picture, showing a further increase in youth unemployment, to a historic 1.04 million, or one in five of those between 16 and 24, raising fears of a lost generation.

The paper focused on those who were worst off among the whole NEET group – young adults who fail to make a successful transition from school to work, often due to poor qualifications and lack of work experience which is itself symptomatic of wider problems. Immediate action is necessary to avoid tens of thousands more young British people becoming part of an abandoned generation.

Youths aged 16-17 are especially vulnerable as they have little or no contact with the state and do not qualify for state support. This creates a serious risk of disconnection for this group, who can experience two years or more out of work, education or training before any recovery programme begins. By the time they reach 18 – the qualifying age for the formal benefit system – the damage has already been done, reinforcing the need for early intervention.

The research highlights the cost-effectiveness of early identification and engagement, noting that the younger the intervention takes place, the cheaper and more effective it will be – a view that is expected to sit well with current Government moves towards a payment-by-results system.

This is supported by independent evaluation undertaken by FTI Consulting in June 2011 of the Tomorrow’s People Working It Out initiative that works with those aged 16-24. FTI identified a £2.86 social return on investment (SROI) for every £1 invested in the programme. The broader Welfare to Work programme does not focus on young people, instead being available to anyone of working age, has a lower return on investment, confirming the merits of early intervention.

This is supplemented by results comparing different approaches of engaging with at-risk young people, suggesting that financial incentives – such as payments tied to young people’s participation, attendance and performance – are a more effective way of improving educational outcomes. In contrast, careers advice and counselling generally proves to have a short-lived impact. Following the scrapping of Educational Maintenance Allowance in England, there are serious risks that the trend of youth-NEETs will only accelerate.

Tomorrow’s People Chief Executive Baroness Stedman-Scott said: “This research shines a spotlight on a group we cannot afford to ignore. Thousands of young people leave school each year with no qualifications and no experience of work. They remain ‘stuck’, at risk of long-term unemployment, depression and crime. This report shows us not only how to identify those at risk at a key age, but also how to support them so they have a real chance of a successful future.

“Beyond the benefits to improving the lives of individual young people, the report brings to light the huge benefits of early intervention to the taxpayer, something I know the Government will be keen to look at in these difficult economic times.”

The report’s author, Professor Paul Gregg, added: “The key transition from school to work is too often chaotic, interspersed with long-term joblessness. This causes long-term damage to these young people’s lives. This report highlights those most at risk, drawing on existing evidence to identify the key building blocks of a potential programme which can make a real difference in the UK.”

The research tracked 15,000 young people of whom a proportion were NEETs for more than a year and analysed family backgrounds, qualifications and prospects to reveal the huge social and economic cost to individuals and society.

-- The report identifies key characteristics that provide early warning signs, including:

-- Poor Key Stage 2 scores (aged 11);

-- Living in social housing;

-- No internet connection at home;

-- Parents who are unemployed or in low-skill jobs;

-- Teen smoking; and

-- Truanting and exclusion.

Explore further: New poll reveals what Americans fear most

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Heavy metal music has negative impacts on youth

Oct 20, 2011

Young people at risk of depression are more likely to listen habitually and repetitively to heavy metal music. University of Melbourne researcher Dr Katrina McFerran has found.

Vocational education review

Mar 04, 2011

The low-level vocational courses taken by many young people have little or no value in the labour market, suggests an independent review published today by the Department of Education. The report suggests funding should be ...

Recommended for you

New poll reveals what Americans fear most

3 hours ago

Chapman University has initiated the first comprehensive nationwide study on what strikes fear in Americans in the first of what is a planned annual study. According to the Chapman poll, the number one fear in America today ...

Study shows how texas campus police tackle stalking

3 hours ago

One out of every five female students experience stalking victimization during their college career, but many of those cases are not reported to police, according to a study by the Crime Victims' Institute ...

How large-scale technology projects affect knowledge

6 hours ago

What do an accelerator complex at Cern, a manufacturing center in 19th century Philadelphia and lotus cultivation during the Qing dynasty all have in common? All such activities generate knowledge and know-how. ...

User comments : 3

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

jscroft
1 / 5 (1) Feb 01, 2012
And by "we," of course, the authors mean ME.
Vendicar_Decarian
not rated yet Feb 01, 2012
Yes.. Your choice is to pay something now or pay more later.

Do you find reality so difficult to comprehend?
jscroft
Feb 10, 2012
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
Vendicar_Decarian
not rated yet Feb 10, 2012
Then you truly are as stupid as you sound.