Increasing Participation: Understanding Young People who do not Participate in Education or Training at 16 or 17

Paula Smith, Tom Benton, Gill Featherstone, Sarah Golden, Thomas Spielhofer, Kelly Evans, Julie Nelson

01 January 2009

Research report available to download from DFE

Research brief available to download from DFE

The Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) commissioned the NFER to conduct a research study aimed at exploring the characteristics and experiences of young people who are not in education, employment or training (NEET) or in jobs without training (JWT). The study combined three complementary research methods, including a literature review, statistical analysis of Youth Cohort Study data and interviews with 120 young people and 39 professionals. These methods were used to construct a segmentation of these ‘groups’ of young people, their characteristics and motivations, and what strategies are likely to re-engage them in education or training.

Key Findings

  • The statistical segmentation analysis confirmed that there are segments within the larger groups of young people who are NEET and in JWT and that there are distinct differences between these segments.
  • The research suggests that among young people who are NEET, more than two-fifths are generally positive about learning and are very likely to participate in education or training in the short-term. A similar proportion face a lot of personal and structural barriers and are likely to remain NEET in the long-term. One-fifth of young people were classified as ‘undecided NEET’ - they do not face significant personal barriers to participating in education or training, but are dissatisfied with the available opportunities.
  • Within the JWT group, almost half are very content with their work and likely to remain in a JWT in the long-term. A third of young people in this group were found to be at risk of becoming NEET in the future, while 17 per cent had taken a JWT as a stop-gap solution before re-engaging in education or training.
  • Interviews with 120 young people currently or previously NEET or in a JWT confirmed the validity of the segmentation analysis and showed that different policy solutions are needed to engage or re-engage the different segments of young people.
  • The research suggested that in order to increase participation, young people need better information, advice and guidance before leaving learning or while in jobs without training to increase their awareness of the learning options available to them and enable them to make more informed choices.
  • The study also identified a need for more flexible and appropriate post-16 provision suitable for all young people aged 16 and 17 in terms of content, delivery and timing.