Roughly 13.6% of young people in England are not in employment, education or training (NEET). This can have damaging effects on a young person’s life. By the age of 21, young people who have been NEET for at least six months are more likely than their peers to be unemployed, earn less, have a criminal record, and suffer from poor physical and mental health.
The high numbers of young people who are NEET in the UK is also a significant drain on the public purse. Notwithstanding unemployment benefits payments from the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP), some estimates indicate that NEET young people are 20 times more likely to be convicted of a crime.
The Youth Engagement Fund is a £16 million payment by results fund launched in April 2015. It aims to help disadvantaged young people aged 14 to 17 to participate and succeed in education or training. This will improve their employability, reduce their long term dependency on benefits, and reduce their likelihood of offending. The funding will be provided through Social Impact Bonds (SIBs) with investors funding innovative initiatives to prevent young people from becoming NEET (not in education, employment or training). Government will only pay if the initiatives are successful and lead to positive outcomes. The Youth Engagement Fund is jointly funded by the Cabinet Office, Department of Work and Pensions and the Ministry of Justice.
The Teens & Toddlers Social Impact Bond is delivering interventions to 1680 teenagers from deprived areas of Greater Manchester, identified as underperforming at school, having poor behaviour and other complex issues, and at risk of becoming NEET. The success of the Social Impact Bond is being measured by improved engagement at school, educational qualifications and employment opportunities. The 18 week interventions are delivered by Teens and Toddlers to young people drawn from 35 schools over three years. Teens and Toddlers is unique in its intervention that places teenagers to mentor nursery-aged children in need of extra support with their communication skills. Working with toddlers boosts the self-esteem and aspirations of secondary school students.
Teens and Toddlers pair young people with toddlers from local primary schools who are in need of extra support, to act as a mentor and role model. Teens work with the toddlers over 18 weekly sessions in order to build confidence, responsibility, and hands-on work experience. Trained facilitators also lead young people in group sessions to develop their personal, social and communication skills, and to discuss the importance of applying themselves in school for achieving their life goals. The YEF employs an outcome tariff, adjusted from the Innovation Fund. Service providers were invited to bid against this tariff, with successful projects selected on the basis of value for money and potential to achieve social value. There are different outcomes categories depending upon the age of young people that the service is working with. For young people aged 14-15, outcomes include: improved attitude to school; improved school attendance; improved behaviour at school; and, achievement of a QCF-accredited Entry Level qualification (e.g. an extra-curricular interpersonal skills course). Young people aged 16 and above for education attainment and employment outcomes as applicable e.g.: QCF Level 1 (e.g. one GCSE grade A* to G or L1 BTEC); QCF Level 2 (e.g. 5 GCSEs grade A* to C or a Level 2 BTEC); QCF Level 3 (e.g. A-levels or Level 3 diploma); entry into first employment (13 weeks); entry into sustained employment (26 weeks).