From education to employment

SEU Report Highlights Programmes Working to Improve Inclusion for Young People

“Transition”, the report on issues faced by 16 -25 year old young adults making the change from adolescence to adulthood published by the Social Exclusion Unit (SEU), has been published and makes plain the challenges facing young people today.

The report comments on issues of inclusion, the problems of mental health and drug problems, and calls for greater engagement and action to support Anti -Social Behavioural Orders (ASBOs) with specialised programmes allowing individuals to return to work with Individual Support Programmes. MP Phil Woolas, Minister of State for the SEU and Local Government, spoke of the need to continue cross ““ Government actions in this area.

Prince’s Trust

The report also lists the case studies of successful projects in the area. The first of these is the Princes Trust Team Programme, Jarrow. This is a 12-week programme for 16- to 25 year olds, the majority of whom are unemployed, and offers personal development training achieved through fostering teamwork and cooperation in the community. During the 12 weeks of the programme, the participants undertake teambuilding, a community project, a work placement and a final presentation.

They learn concepts of teamwork, leadership, communication skills and motivation with one team having 17 participants, each of whom had been recruited on outreach (on the street, or by contacting drug rehab centres, doctors, solicitors and magistrates” courts). Many of the participants came from difficult backgrounds. The group in question elected to renovate a nearby retirement home, entering into negotiations with local companies for materials. Since its launch in 1990, more than 80,000 young people have joined the personal development programme and 79 % moved on into employment, education or training.

Personal Development

Another initiative mentioned was that of Fairbridge, a personal development charity working with 13-25 year-olds. This charity offers the participants long-term support rather than succumbing to the practice of moving young people on to adult services as fast as possible, which can often be the practice of statutory agencies. Fairbridge allots each on of the young people a key worker as the primary source of support. The key worker will have a strong relationship with a number of the relevant statutory agencies.

From this position the key worker can act as a source of stability and support, and as an advocate for a young persons needs during the transition between Connexions and Jobcentre Plus provision or CAMHS and Adult Mental Health services. With 13 branches across cities in England, Fairbridge aims to offer this opportunity for self ““ development to as many of the 13 ““ 25 year olds in need of assistance as possible. The success rate is impressive, with half of the over-16s that Fairbridge has worked with over the last year having moved on into education, training or employment.

Another case study was that provided by the Foyer Federation, which supports more than 130 Foyers across the country providing an integrated accommodation / education and training package for ten thousand 16 ““ 25 year olds who need the support in housing matters. With its holistic life ““ long learning programme that allows young people to achieve their goals in training and development, Foyers are able to help their wards move on into further education successfully.

Many things will need to change for the Government to tackle these issues successfully, with wide reaching ramifications for the Department for Education and Skills (DfES), the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), the Home Office and the Health Service. Whether this changing of the guard will result in marching to a new and better tune remains to be proven, and can only be assessed in the fullness of time.

Jethro Marsh

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