From education to employment

Money Key Incentive for Young People Not Remaining in Education

The Learning and Skills Council (LSC) has released a report that finds the key reason for young people leaving education has been the chance or need to earn money.

The report lists the top ten reasons for leaving education according to the adults asked who left education at 16, and shows that much remains to be done in the efforts to raise the general awareness of what education can potentially add to salary expectations. Figures from the Office of National Statistics indicate that staying in education can add up to £4,000 to an individual’s annual salary. From this report’s findings, it appears that long term gain is not quite tantalizing enough to outweigh short term necessity.

The Report

In the report, which was a survey of 2,183 in August of 2005 representing what the LSC describe as “representative of the adult population of Great Britain”, 54% stated that their main reason for leaving education was the desire to earn money straight away. A further 26% stated that they could not afford to stay in education, whilst 21% said that their parents could not or would not support them in staying in education beyond the age of 16.

Peer pressure played its part as well, with 15% saying that their decision was partly due to their friends” leaving education as well. Worryingly for the schools, colleges and training providers, some 34% said they were dissatisfied with the school and teachers, possibly indicating that they were placed within a learning environment that was not best suited to their needs. This could be taken to be an argument for more flexible training and learning approaches, possibly including a modification of the examination system such as that suggested in the Tomlinson Report.

Minister Responds

The Skills Minister, Phil Hope MP, said that work had already begun in meeting the demand for better financial provision for those thinking of leaving school at 16 with the rolling out of the Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA). He said: “We know that when young people leave compulsory school education, their choices can be significantly affected by the financial support available for post -16 learning. We introduced EMA to increase opportunities for young people and we expect around half of all 16 year olds, currently in their GCSE year to be eligible. From April next year we are extending EMAs to young people who want to learn in LSC funded unwaged training programmes.”

Tax incentives and benefit incentives will also be incorporated in what Mr. Hope sees as a vital battle to drive up post – 16 participation in education. “At the same time, we are extending Child Benefit and Child Tax Credit to their parents and carers in recognition of their need for parental support whilst in learning,” he said. “This will ensure that these learners receive the same package of support that is available to those in full time education. All young people must have the support and incentives they need to participate in education and training beyond 16 and develop their talents to the full.”

Learn From the Past, Urge LSC

The Deputy Director for Young People’s Learning at the LSC, Ruth Bullen, hopes that this report and the use of the EMA will serve to prove that we can learn from the mistakes of the past. “For many young people dropping out of education to earn even a small amount of money can be tempting,” she recognised, “but the reality is that those without the minimum level of qualifications ““ such as five good GCSEs are more likely to be unemployed in the long run and will earn £4000 less a year in the future.

“We are urging all young people who are stuck in dead-end jobs or who arethinking about leaving school at 16 to rethink their options,” she continued. “There are a now a whole host of routes available to young people including apprenticeships and vocational courses.”

She concluded by painting a better picture of the future, if the levels of post ““ 16 participation continue to rise. “By staying on at school or college at 16,” she said, “young people will set themselves up for life, they will earn more money and are more likely to enjoy the work they do ““ and ultimately be able to create a better future for themselves.”

Jethro Marsh

Did you leave education at 16? Have you come back? If so, why? If not, why not? Tell us in the FE Blog

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