Supporting young people into education, employment and training

Schools play a vital role in helping young people to stay engaged in education and to successfully move into further/higher education, training or employment.  Since the mid 90s, the proportion of young people not in education, employment or training (NEET) has fluctuated at around nine to ten per cent (UK Gov figures). This points to a continued challenge for schools in engaging some young people. Schools are now required to provide learners with information, advice and guidance around careers and, from 2015, young people will be required to be in education or training until the of age 18. Clearly these changes will impact on schools. If exploring how these challenges and changes are affecting your school, colleagues, learners or the wider community is on your agenda, these webpages can help.

What could I research?

Within this wide policy arena, there are many topics that schools could investigate.
Here are some ideas:

What is the nature of the work experience opportunities we offer?   How can my school more effectively engage with local businesses?   What are the impacts on learners of my school engaging with employers?
Evaluate a particular intervention in the school to target learners who are at risk of becoming NEET  

Research ideas

  How is my school implementing the requirement to ensure learners receive independent and impartial careers guidance?
How can we identify students who are at risk of becoming NEET and disengaged from learning?
  • What tools are there?
  • How do the indicators differ depending on the age of learners?
  How can we improve our work and impact across any of these individual areas?

What research design should I use?

Here are some things you will need to consider when designing your research project.


You will need to consider who to include in your research.
Are you interested in only learners’ experiences or also that of school staff, any partners working with your school, employers, parents/carers and/or others?


Developing young researchers
You may want to engage all types of learners in your research or to focus on those who are NEET or at risk of becoming so, or former NEET young people. They may be able to offer invaluable insights into instrument development, data collection and interpretation/analysis. Involving young people in this activity will also help them to develop their own learning and core skills.


You could use a range of methods, including:
  • observing learners during an intervention or programme
  • surveys – although this may not be the preferred method of data collection for NEET young people
  • interviewing learners and other stakeholders.
Alternatively (or in addition) you could carry out a literature review, for example to find out how other schools/local authorities have identified at risk of NEET young people or what strategies have helped young people re-engage in education. Carrying out a review of others’ work may help you select a ‘risk of NEET indicators' (RONI) toolkit.


Measuring change
If you are evaluating an intervention, it is best practice to use a ‘before’ and ‘after’ assessment so you can track change. This can be done by asking key stakeholders, at the outset, about their hopes, aspirations and intentions and again at the end, whether these aims were realised and what impact they perceive the intervention to have had. It is not always possible to ask before (pre) and after (post) questions, in which case, just do so afterwards – this way you can learn from their experiences and implement relevant changes.

Relevant research and guidance

NFER has carried out a great deal of research into supporting young people to engage or re-engage in education, employment and training, many of which can be found here.

Reading the signs: An interactive checklist of indicators for identifying the reasons why young people may disengage

Careers guidance: If not an annual careers plan - then what?

The evaluation of the raising the participation age locally-led delivery projects (RPA) 2011 to 2012

Increasing participation: Understanding young people who do not participate in education or training at 16 or 17

Barriers to participation in education and training

Widening 14-19 choices: Support for young people making informed decisions

Raising the participation age and training to 18: review of exsisting evidence of the benefits and challenges

Non-formal learning: Good practice in re-engaging young people who are NEET

You may also find some of these organisations’ publications useful:


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