From education to employment

Social Exclusion Unit Report on Young Adults” Right to Focus on Age Cut-Off of Services

Britain’s vocational learning providers have lent their support to the Government’s Social Exclusion Unit (SEU) after it highlighted concerns about the cut-off of support services, including training, at the age of 19.

The problems associated with the abrupt withdrawal of universally available support is outlined in the SEU’s new report, “Young Adults with Complex Needs”, which examines the effectiveness of services for young adults with complex needs as they make the transition to adulthood. It focuses on 16- to 25-year olds, analyses the issues they face, and sets out 27 agreed cross-government action points.

The Report and the ALP

The report, the third in the series Improving Services, Improving Lives from the SEU, finds: “Many policies assume that youth ends at 18 or 19 but the reality is that for some disadvantaged young people ““ teenage parents for example ““ this may be when support is needed. Many of the issues that are thought of as problems of teenagers are in fact as bad (or worse) for those in their early twenties, on whom much less policy has been focussed ““ the phenomenon of the “invisible early twenties”.

The Association of Learning Providers (ALP), which represents independent learning providers and colleges that deliver work based learning, has voiced strong support for the recommendations on advice and guidance for young people contained in the “Transitions ““ Young Adults with Complex Needs”, particularly the assertion that more policy needs to concentrate on young people over the age of 19.

Graham Hoyle, ALP’s chief executive, said: “Six years after its ground-breaking Bridging the Gap report which led to the welcome establishment of the Connexions service, the Social Exclusion Unit has again done the Government and young people a great service by stressing the importance of developing a youth support framework that provides mainstream as well as targeted services as part of a joined-up offer. It is vital that the DfES builds on what is best about Connexions by listening to the wise counsel evident in this report.”

Reinforcing Action

The report also shows how the cross-government action aims to reinforce responsibility, respect and raise aspirations by improving the support behind ASBOs, will seek to help more disadvantaged young adults into jobs by training them in the basic life skills that they need to make them ready to take up apprenticeships and will blur artificial age boundaries and promote the benefits of one-stop holistic services so that young adults get the help they need when they need it instead of stopping or starting services and help because they have passed a particular birthday.

Phil Woolas, Minister with Responsibility for the Social Exclusion Unit and Local Government said: “For my generation – and my parents generation – the transition from adolescence to adulthood was relatively straightforward: leave school, get a job, leave mum and dads home, get married, start a family. But these days – as the SEU report shows – the transition is more complicated – and more difficult.

“All young people need help and advice during this critical stage of their lives. Important decisions have to be made – decisions about work and education, for example. But for vulnerable and disadvantaged young people that advice can sometimes be lacking – and this can result in existing disadvantage being passed from one generation to the next.

He concluded by saying: “For me, one of the key points in the SEU report is the focus on the need for a disadvantaged young adult to have trust in someone they respect – and who respects them. Someone who can support and advise them – but also challenge their thinking. This is crucial. And it is one way that all young people can experience a successful and happy adult life.”

Michael Lloyd

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