Failure to achieve a level 2 qualification makes young people twice as likely to be out of work or education long-term, according to a new report.
The 2017 Youth Jobs Index from private equity foundation Impetus-PEF, put together by the Learning and Work Institute, shows that nearly 2 million young people between the ages of 16 and 24 spent at least some time not in employment, education or training (Neet) last year. Meanwhile, the number of those young people who spent a year or more Neet increased from 714,000 the previous year to 811,000 this year, and now stands at one in 10.
Resits can trigger 'further failure'
The likelihood of this, according to the report, is significantly affected by the level of qualification held. While for those qualified at level 3 there is only a 11 per cent risk of being Neet for six months and a 4 per cent risk of spending 12 months Neet, among young people who fail to secure a level 2 qualification, the risk of being Neet for six months is 26 per cent, and for 12 months or more is 19 per cent.
The report states that long periods of being Neet can adversely affect mental and physical health and future earnings – to the tune of £225,000 over a lifetime. Securing level 2 qualifications at 16, and transitioning to further education or training, therefore must be the aim for all young people, concludes the report. “For those young people, disproportionately disadvantaged, who do not secure good GCSEs in English and maths, the compulsory retakes must be a real second chance,” it adds. “As our Life after School research shows, for most they just result in further failure. This leaves them without the level 2 qualifications that make such a difference.”
Young people who failed to attain an A* to C pass in English or maths at GCSE level now have to resit those qualifications at college. This has led to a dramatic increase in the number of young people on those courses, with college leaders highlighting the high risk of repeated failure among those learners.
'Fix the broken resit market'
Andy Ratcliffe, CEO of Impetus-PEF, said: “We know from the research that young people who spend a long time out of school, work or training are some of the most disadvantaged with few or no qualifications. We also know that getting level 2 qualifications is as strong a means to escape Neet status. It’s vital that we fix the broken resit market, funding FE colleges and ensuring high-quality teachers are in place to provide a real second chance for young people without level 2 qualifications to get them.”
Learning and Work Institute policy and research director Tony Wilson said recent falls in the number of young people not in education, employment and training were welcome, but disguised a more complicated picture that the report was now shedding light on. “Too many young people experience long periods or several spells of being outside of learning and work. We need to ensure that our education and employment systems better support these groups. This means ensuring that they are better able to identify them – not relying on snapshot numbers which can encourage short-term programmes and responses, but focusing on longer-term solutions.”