Focussing on youth unemployment, the project engaged young people between 14 and 19 years old that are not in (or at risk of dropping out of) education, employment or training. The aim was to get this group of young people back into education, training or employment (‘from NEET to EET’).
The initial operation began in 2009 and was limited to Hackney, delivered by YOH and overseen by Inspire! – the Education Business Partnership for Hackney. The success of this project led to a consortium led by Inspire!, a NEET programme operated across six North London boroughs: Barnet, Enfield, Hackney, Haringey, Tower Hamlets and Waltham Forest.
The North London Cluster, a partnership of organisations and local authorities, successfully submitted a tender for this project to the European Social Fund and Skills Funding Agency and ran until 2015.
YOH was responsible for engaging young people through detached youth work, encouraging personal and skill development, supporting the transition to education or employment and supporting them to stay in EET.
During this time, the project contributed to reducing the Hackney Youth Unemployment figures by over 80%.
As a locally-led organisation, we had significant insight into the challenges people face. Therefore, we invested in resolving the personal challenges young people were experiencing, such as confidence or complications at home. Once these issues were resolved, it was an easy transition to aspiration and skill development, followed by accessing education or employment. This approach delivered high retention rates.
As logical as this may seem, most NEET programmes focus on the course/job finding process, so young people access EET but a high rate drop out.
The success of this project was picked up by Newsnight, Gov.uk and the ESF commissioned an independent evaluation, which singled out YOH for successfully engaging and supporting young people into EET.
YOH looked into the sustainability of these results 24 months after it ended. When compared to projects that focus on the transition to EET rather than the barriers preventing it, this project offered far more sustainability.
91% were still in employment after 24 months, compared to 46% in projects that focus on the transition phase.
However, the Youth Workers that delivered this project were not surprised.
Youth unemployment is often seen as a product of lack of motivation or skill. Working with young people, it is very clear there are various contributing to their position. It may seem initially sound longer to resolve but it pays off in the short-medium term.
There are figures that support our youth workers claim. Of the 91% that remained in employment, some dropped out but found their next job without further support. Conversely, of the 54% that drop out after traditional job finding project have placed them in employment, 89% return for more support, costing the organisation at least two-fold.
During the evaluation, we noticed reoccurring indirect results. Young people from families with intergenerational unemployment possessed greater hurdles to access employment. However, the impact of accessing employment, positively affected siblings, other family members and friends.
Again, these findings were logical consequences that benefited young people’s inner circles. Gaining a disposable income allowed young people to make purchases and feel happier. Groups of young people that went on a holiday together provided a particularly significant impact on their inner circles.
From these actions, we witnessed family and friends of former beneficiaries approaching the project for support, creating a domino-effect. Consequently, the project was able to make a difference to social groups rather than individual young people.
How was the learning this used
At the end of the project, Inspire! hosted several dissemination events inviting both organisations working with young people and those funding these types of activities.
Furthermore, the lessons learnt were used when designing other projects, such as those delivered in Tower Hamlets.