Eurozone 2013

What will happen to the Eurozone in 2013? Al Jazeera’s Simon McGregor-Wood reports.


Bad news for the compulsory school leaving age in Britain

So we all know that our compulsory school leaving age is being increased, to 18 by 2015 (Hodgson and Spours, 2008) and while educational participation and attainment may be on the rise globally as well as nationally we do need to wonder about what the consequences may be.

While I am not an expert on this topic I have come across one piece of information during my literature review for my dissertation that concerns me…

Most OECD countries have a 90% or higher completion of compulsory education.

However 14 OECD countries and associated countries have lower then 90% compulsory education completion, 10 out of 14 of these have a high compulsory attendance leaving age for example around 17 and 18 (OECD, 2012).

While I do not have any direct correlation between the leaving age and the completion of school it seems logical that if someone doesn’t like something they are more likely to leave if they feel that it will last a long time. So having an increased leaving age may have the potential of putting people off attending school.

One way that this could be combated is to give students a meaningful accreditation solely for good attendance at school, this may bring them some incentive to attend until the end of their compulsory education, this is a method used in Japanese kōtōgakkō or upper secondary schools for 15-18year olds (Howarth, 1991).

Hodgson, A and Spours, K (2008). Education and Training 14-19 curriculum, qualifications & organisation. London: Sage Publications LTD.

Howarth, M (1991). Britain’s Educational Reform: A Comparison with Japan. London: Routladge.

OECD (2012) Education Today 2013: The OECD Perspective. OECD Publishing. 

Where are we going now? 2011 riots research summary

When individuals commit crimes of theft and destruction on a large scale within society our reaction is to aslongside penalising individuals involved also ask why did this happen and how can we provent it from happening again?

And so since the summer riots of 2011 a study has been commissioned to interview individuals from the areas of London affected ‘After the Riots’ the final report of the Riot Communities and Victims Panel has now been published find the link here

Below is a summary of the findings of this report…please feel free to comment and add to this yourselves.

The report calls for

opportunities for all (including the young), people to respect where they live and each other, people to feel they have a stake within society, greater inter-partnership of voluntary and statutory services working for individuals in society who are struggling, police and public law to uphold the law and order, a penalising and reformative criminal justice system within all communities.

After the Riots states that there are different reasons why people may commit crimes and anti-social/anti-community behaviour and highlight 6 key areas that would build economic and social resilience within our communities.

  1. Children and Parents :- many communities involved in the research believed they rioting was a result of poor parenting. Therefore the report states that there is a need to make sure children are getting support, guidance and control from their families. The report continues to talk about the government ‘Troubled Families Programme which is believed (in a poll of 80 local authorities) to overlap with rioters families by 5%. There are key principles outlined for services that work with families; early intervention,  evidence based support for the communities to access, planning for families and not just individuals, to share data across agencies working with families to save time, an advocate for children who need to reach their potential as opposed to looking at their deficits, giving children positive role models within families or communities (including contacting absent fathers about there children).
  2. Building Personal Resilience :- many young people expressed hopelessness to the panel, the panels suggests that families are to instil character into young people including self discipline, application and the ablility to deal with set backs. Where families cannot do this children’s and young people’s services are responsible for this. Also there is also a need for schools to develop their policies on building character, testing their pupils on their character development.
  3. Hope and Dreams :- record youth unemployment among other things were mentioned in regards to young people’s lack of hopes and dreams. In a survey 43% f people thought that schools prepared people for work, there was also an accusation that schools exclude and transfer students for the wrong reasons.  A fifth of school leavers have literacy skills of or below that of an 11 year old, there is a recommendation that schools which fail to provide people with the appropriate literacy skills should pay the cost of raising their attainment via the new provider. There are also recommendations that schools to more to stop truancy and to only exclude as a last resort, there should also be inspection into transfers to ensure a transferred student has not lost any quality in their education. The report states that there is a need for a careers support quality guarantee for all pupils expressing what a child can expect in terms of guidance and support. Businesses should be an ambassador for schools.  Core NEETs (those out of education, employment or training for a year) should have a job promise form the government and a job guarantee for those NEET for two years.
  4. Riots and the Brands :- a majority of shops targeted stocked high value goods, the panel asks businesses to adopt CSR (corporate social responsibility) including apprenticeships and work opportunities. The panel asks the government to support businesses to give something back to the communities such as offering shareholder participation to shorten the growing capitalist wealth gap. In order to address concerns that pressure is put on young people through advertisement the panel writes that the Advertising Standards Authority include materialism into their engagement with young people to build their resilience to it.
  5. Usual Suspects :- the need for early intervention with offenders such as Triage, improving resources for offenders and effective punishment and rehabilitation of offenders is suggested by the panel. Alongside suggestions for community projects for offenders including unpaid work, there is also a need for inter-partnership working and mentoring for each offender.  Due to negative images of police services integrity within communities the panel states that police engage with the communities they work within to tackle negative perceptions, including improving the treatment of individuals on minor occasions by the police.
  6. Community Engagement, Involvement and Cohesion :-  there needs to develop community engagement and communication capabilities as the report found that community members felt they could not interfere with other’s lives but also felt their is a need for communities to help develop families and households. The use of community members within community projects is vital the report found as people will react more effectively with their ‘peers’ than their ‘officials’. The report suggests that volunteering be at the heart of community development.

Are we at risk of a NEET overload? All I hear is NEET, NEET, NEET here have some facts

This time a year ago I think the word ‘NEET’ was a purely professional or academic term that I had personally had heard about 3times now it seems to be everywhere;

In the news…

In my work meetings…

In youth conferences…

On the television…

Within schools…

Articles, books…you get the picture

So what does ‘NEET’ mean and what exactly is this ‘NEET phenomena’ that is exploding across news papers, funding bids and social policy agendas costing tax payers and British society a lot of money I’m sure.

The following is Information from my Literature Research that I thought I’d share, please feel free to add and comment!

NEET= ‘Not in employment, education or training’ some others may refer to this as NETLE= ‘Not in employment, training, learning or education’ whichever way you look at it means someone who is not earning or learning (theoretically). However I’d like to mention that NEET’s include people who volunteer of their own accord and do many things outside of earning and learning and so it in no way means that for people to be NEET they are doing NOTHING. In fact I’m sure many NEETs are learning very valuable life lessons everyday unless they are literally doing NOTHING AT ALL in which case I’m sure they will disappear entirely.

NEET is just a current term for social exclusion; social exclusion has been on the political agenda since the early 1990’s. Labour made social exclusion a focus of their campaign into office in 1997 and have aimed policy around supporting those who were socially excluded since. Bridging the Gap was a huge step into the socially excluded correctness zone which aimed to defend the Nation against social exclusion and was a big convincing reason to fund targeted youth services in Britain (the tail end of this may be why I have a job today in fact)!

Social exclusion and NEET seem to be terms that refer to something a person (or people) need to correct immediately why? The reason for this is that being a NEET or socially excluded person creates a higher risk factor for individuals to be involved in substance abuse and criminality. NEET’s are also more likely to be a long term cost on taxation.

Before social exclusion was ‘youth unemployment’, which was a huge political agenda during the 1880’s.

Currently Britain has 260,000 ‘core’ NEETs which means individuals that have been out of employment, training or education for a year.

NEET usually is a term which applies to young people with the majority being 16-18 (except in Wales which last year had a higher 19-25 ratio of NEETs).

I hope this information will be useful to people to other members of society I for one have found it useful in my understanding and placement of political agendas, funding, young people and the current economic climate. I do hope that those who are NEET or NETLE find things that they enjoy doing and perhaps gain employment or seek training in these enjoyments with or without support from government funded schemes, teachers, training providers, learning coaches, youth, social or community workers.

Thank you

Here are some references so that you know I didn’t make all of that up!

Department for Education and Skills. (2002) Estimating the Cost of Being ‘Not in Education, Employment or Training’ at age 16-18. DfES Publications: Nottingham.

Furlong, A (2006). Not a very NEET solution: representing problematic labour market transitions among early school-leavers. Work, employment and society (20) pp553-569.

Hills, J and Steward, K. (2005) Access on-line here:

Rose, J. (2008) Youth Policy in Wales. youth and Policy (56) pp 55-63.

Steward, K. (2009) A Scar on the soul of Britain: child poverty and disadvantage under New Labour. In Hills, J Sefton, T and Steward, K. Towards a more equal society? Poverty, inequality and policy since 1997.

Welsh Assembly Government, 2008, Delivering Skills that Work for Wales: Reducing the proportion of young people not in education, employment or training in Wales.

Yates, S and Payne, M. (2006) Not so NEET? A critique of the use of ‘NEET’ in Setting Targets for Interventions with Young People. Journal of Youth Studies 9 (No 3, July) pp. 329-344.

Great news for the unpaid work scheme victims!

Well previously many people have blogged/reported about the unpaid work scheme that people have to partake in when on jobseekers allowance (JSA) in order to keep their benefits (see previous blog here

Now companies are starting to back out of the scheme and pressure is being put more companies to join in to see a full article here

Hopefully the government JSA scheme can be replaced by some other attempt to help people become employable, maybe a scheme were they do either get paid or have a choice in whether they participate.

Comments welcome


How the British government deals with youth unemployment…

Upon reading the Metro this morning I was slightly delighted to find people have been commenting on the government led unpaid work schemes.

The scheme is that if you are on JSA (job seekers allowance) which pays under 25’s £53.45 per week maximum than you will be asked to work  for a company (which you may have a choice in to a certain extent) for a period of time (maybe up to six months). The programme is open to those who are over 25 and also claiming JSA however they have a longer wait to be ‘asked’ to attend an interview on the topic and receive a higher rate of benefit at £67.50 per week.

Find out more on the ‘work programme’ here:

If one is to refuse the work programme the job centre may stop your benefits, so when they ask you to go on the programme there is no choice, except the choice of work opportunities that they can arrange for you. For example; if they have a work placement at two shops you may get to choose which one you work at.

What does participation on the programme offer the enrolled individual? Work experience, building a relationship with a company that may choose to offer you a job and it could also build your confidence if you have been out of work.

There are however some downfalls to the scheme which may or may not have been overlooked by the government such as; people who are working full time for JSA are otherwise pre-occupied from looking for their own PAID job, people who work for these companies will not necessarily gain employment at the end of their work period and if companies know about this then they are more likely to employ free labour than advertise paid job vacancies.

So here is the story of a young woman who felt forced to go into work placement with the job centre and feels that she has lost out:

A summary of the comments in today’s Metro:

‘A job is a job if it’s fair.’

‘What benefit would it be to receive a fifth of the pay of an employee to work’?

In reference to a young female in the above linked article who worked in Poundland on the scheme ‘of course [name] didn’t get a job in Poundland [referring to the end of her work placement] -it [Poundland] would be mad to offer her a job when it has a consent supply of free labour’

Please comment below with any experiences, opinions or such on this topic!

Thank you!

Un-employment for young people and alternative options

It’s 2011 we’re in a recession and unemployment has been increasing. We have the highest unemployment statistics that we’ve had in 17years according to the Guardian, Metro and other newspapers reporting this week. On 13.10.2011 the Metro’s Political Editor wrote that in August this year the number of unemployed young people reached ‘the brink of 1million’. Guardian’s writer Katie Allen wrote the same one day earlier and also stated that people aged 16-24 were the ‘worst affected by the slowdown in the labour market’.

Making assumptions about the reasons why people aged 16-24 have the highest unemployment rate one might consider a number of issues. In a competitive market they are less likely to have the desired work experience employers may be looking for, may be lacking skills during interviews and their C.V’s may not have a particular ‘selling’ factor that others have gained through years of experience.

So considering this I began to wonder how we as youth workers, community workers and educators are preparing young people for a competitive job market and how the school curriculum offers people the skills they need to find work and have the best chance of gaining employment? On a larger scale I wondered how are the Government supporting young people and preparing them with vocational skills or at least planning to?

Government and localised authorities are clearly aware of this issue and refer to young people not in education, employment or training as ‘NEET’. During my time at university we have explored many options for NEET young people and indeed some of us have jobs in these areas. Pupil referral units, mentors and youth workers in schools have been introduced to encourage people who are struggling to stay in school, many colleges and organisations offer vocational type or skill based courses as well as the government having many work-focused schemes.

A ‘bad’ example of a training scheme:

Before reading the Metro and Guardian articles I over-heard a conversation from a group of boys on a local bus; they were discussing how one of them had £5 of his wages taken from him for ‘messing around’ and how one person had had £10 taken from them (which was the equivalent of a whole days wages). As a nosey youth worker, young person and concerned citizen I felt I had the right to ask these people more about their experience, they explained they were on a work-experience training scheme during which one of them while mopping the floor splashed the ‘boss’ costing him half a days wages-£5. The other individual after losing his days pay decided to go home after working a further two hours.

I can not help but be critical of this story, I told the boys that I felt this was not an example of work; when in work do we get paid £10 a day? When in work do we have our wages deducted for messing around with no option to contest? And when in work are we allowed to go home due to loss of wages? I felt the boys had been subjected to injustice and was angry.

From this experience it appears young people are being offered the opportunity to work for next to nothing so that they are technically in some form of ‘training’ I plan to explore this issue further and too find out exactly what schemes are available to help people and how much of a benefit they are within my area. If anyone has comments, suggestions or knows of successful/unsuccessful schemes aimed at unemployed people or young people in the UK please comment I would be grateful.

Thank you