Who will win and who will lose out of the ‘Big Society’ agenda?

After there have been so many cut backs in the funding for youth and community projects all over the UK both within the public sector and within the voluntary sector it has come as a low blow to may organisations that the government may end up financing private sector projects instead…

Within funding available for working with young people as part of the big society agenda Serco and co have applied for  what may be £100m for two years. So where are youth and community services going now? Will private and voluntary projects work together in areas where public services have been taken? Or will voluntary and public services all buy into the private sector? One issue that cannot be ignored is that ‘One in 10 charities told researchers for a report by New Philanthropy Capital that they could close within the year due to cuts.’

All of the information above is a summary of issues within a Guardian article written by Daniel Boffey, the article can be found here http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2012/aug/05/serco-bid-national-citizen-service.


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: http://www.jrf.org.uk/publications/policies-towards-poverty-inequality-and-exclusion-1997

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.

Doing a literature review?

My literature review is due in next month and I haven’t even started it yet!!…truth be told I have spent more time thinking about it and panicking than getting my head down and researching!

I have however at least chosen a topic -‘NEET’ (not in education, employment or training) young people. The title will get more specific when I come around to starting it I’m sure.

Also I have managed to find some information on neet young people through research (searching on google scholar and google books), as of yet I have just piled it up ready to read. This is a tactic of not wanting to deal with the looming assignment I’m sure however, this review will have to be done and needs to be started asap.

How am I planning to cope with this?

Firstly we have arranged one student focus group so far which I went to, during this time we discussed how we are approaching the review and clarified exactly with one another what we thought the assignment is asking us to do.

One previous student has giving us a review to look at which is helpful, holding one in your hand and knowing that it is a real thing is helpful (feeling how light weight it is was helpful for me-not a book or a dissertation at all and in fact it looked manageable).

I also have a guide book called ‘doing a literature review’ by Christ Hart which although I will not read cover to cover -as this would detract from the topic- I have found some useful guidance figures which outline the key stages of developing a literature review which helps to show the next step when you’re not sure what to do.

Another thing I did was speak to my tutor about the piece of work, my tutor told me to stop thinking that this was leading onto a research and dissertation proposal and that viewing it as one piece of work instead of one out of three pieces will make it seem more manageable!

If my literature review goes well I may put it on here in about a month…

If anyone has any suggestions on doing literature reviews I’d be thankful to hear of them!!

Please wish myself and all my class mates good luck!

Thank you


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: http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/Employment/Jobseekers/programmesandservices/DG_197781

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!

Speaking out about the recession and cuts affecting young people

Cuts to youth and community services are an emotional topic for me both as a young person and as a youth worker. Due to these two factors I know that I am bias within this topic and so below I will try to construct a piece of writing on the youth service cuts using others opinions and provide links so that anyone who views this can look up the topic for themselves.

In October BBC news and other newspapers reported how 1000 young people had gone to London and protested against cuts to their youth services (find BBC link below). This article aims to explore young people’s opinions on youth club cuts and the reasons behind their feelings.

On July 31st 2011 the Guardian made a video report of how young people felt closure of youth clubs would make local teenagers bored and possibly give people or ‘gangs’ a reason to be violent. One week later Riots broke out in London, so what did young people express on the Guardian’s video report?

‘People are intimidated by us like, there’s nothing to do, if all my friends was here you would see the type of behaviour I’m talking about,’ Young male (1).

‘When they did close their youth centres and they didn’t even elect young people, so it was like one day the youth centre was there and then the next day it was gone,’ Erika Lopez.

‘It’s another thing when youth clubs and all that get shut down it cuts Kids roots off and links, they don’t have anywhere to go,’ Chavez Campbell.

‘There’s nothing here for us,’ Young male (1).

‘Everybody used to go to youth clubs, it’s not even like they made youth club and no-one used to go,’ Young male (1).

There seems to be two issues within this video report one is the closure of youth clubs and the other is gang-crime, which the video expresses will be further influenced by the closure of youth clubs. Young people express that with the current economic climate it’s harder for people to get jobs and money –so they may take things from others.

One of the young people Chavez Campbell from the video has a second video made after the riots that you can access here http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/video/2011/aug/12/i-predict-a-riot-video?intcmp=239.

Young people not having the opportunity to go to a place which is fully theirs and which they can use to make friendships with peers and experiment is one of the issues of taking youth clubs away from young people.

Yes I did say ‘taking youth clubs away from young people’ because young people feel targeted, this becomes apparent during the BBC article on young people protesting over the cuts to services.

“I think they’re cutting young people’s services because we’re easy targets – because we can’t vote and we can’t hold them to account,” Deyontae James.

“The government always complain that all young people – us – are out committing crime or on the streets, but if they’re going to close our youth services, where do they expect young people to go?,” Group of young people.

“They talk about gangs on the streets and giving people something to do – this is a place where we can go and keep out of trouble. They’re going back on what they’ve said.” Nickisha Sutton.

“It’s not fair that everything is happening so quickly and all at once, and young people just feel that they don’t really know why this is happening,” Thomas Ryan-Moulder.”(There were) cuts to EMA (Education Maintenance Allowance) and (now) cuts to youth services – but there’s no reason behind why youths should be targeted so harshly.”

With a change of times economically and a change in government  which seems to be the forefront of the cuts it is obvious young people feel they are getting a raw deal and being ‘targeted’. Aside from youth club closures here are some other issues young people are facing in our current climate:

Youth unemployment is 21.3% -double the rate for the UK as a whole which is was 8.1%. This is the highest youth unemployment rate since records began in 1992 (Guardian.co.uk, 12.10.11).

During Capita’s ‘Not in Education, Employment or Training (NEET) Wales Conference (22.09.11) Careers Wales stated that in 2010:

11.5% of people aged 16-18 and 23.2% of people aged 19-24 were NEET in Wales,

7.1% of people aged 16-18 and 19.8% of people aged 19-24 were NEET in Northern Ireland,

13.8% of people aged 16-18 and 18.4% of people aged 19-24 were NEET in Scotland,

10.7% of people aged 16-18 and 19.3% of people aged 19-24 were NEET in England

And the 2010 European youth unemployment rate was 20.8%.

So with fewer services for young people and growing youth unemployment how will young people react? Will we see more people voicing their opinions and asking for a change, more protests or riots? (Please note I am not suggesting the riots 06/08/11 were or were not a result of cuts to youth services or lack of employment).

Thank you


Choose Youth rally: ‘Cuts are causing failing generation’ BBC.co.uk (25.10.11)


Haringey youth club closures: ‘There’ll be riots’ – video, Guardian.co.uk (31.07.11) http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/video/2011/jul/31/haringey-youth-club-closures-video

‘UK unemployment total hits highest in 17 years’ Guardian.co.uk (12.10.11)


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