But plans not clear enough to help 19-24 year olds, says Auditor General.
The Welsh Government is well placed to help reduce the numbers of 16-18 year olds who are not in education, employment or training (NEET) in Wales but are less well placed to reduce numbers amongst 19-24 year olds, according to a report by the Auditor General for Wales. The report also found that the Welsh Government is not able to assess if it is achieving value for money.
In his report, which considers the Welsh Government’s Youth Engagement and Progression Framework, the Auditor General highlights how the Welsh Government’s approach is based on sound evidence, has the support of local councils and has clear mechanisms to monitor progress. Significant risks do remain, however, as the Framework is not sufficiently clear about support for 19-24 year olds and the Welsh Government lacks a thorough assessment of the resources required to meet its objectives.
Between 2008 and 2012 the number of 16-18 year olds who are NEET fell from 12.4 to just over 10 per cent, while the number of 19-24 year olds who are NEET increased by 6 per cent to 23 per cent. The report found that the Framework is focussed on the younger age group and, if implemented successfully, is likely to help reduce 16-18 year olds who are NEET. However, it not clear if it will be sufficient to achieve the Government’s objectives for the larger number of young people aged 19-24.
The Auditor General estimates the combined value of Welsh Government and European spending associated with reducing the number of young people who are NEET being in the region of £200 million in 2012-13. The report finds that the Welsh Government did not assess the cost of the provision needed to support implemention of the Framework at the outset, but believes it can achieve its objectives by refocusing existing expenditure in this area. Work is underway to align future European funding to better fit alongside the Welsh Government’s priorities but there are weaknesses in evaluating interventions and insufficiently clear plans to assess the value for money of the expenditure.
Auditor General for Wales, Huw Vaughan Thomas said:
“I am encouraged that the Welsh Government is on track to reduce the number of 16-18 year olds that are NEET in Wales. There is still a need to develop a more balanced approach that will help decrease the number of NEETs amongst
19-24 year olds. It is vitally important that the focus looks wider and keeps young people on the right track into their mid-twenties and continues to steer our youth away from unemployment.”
The report makes a number of recommendations to the Welsh Government, to help them ensure the success of the Framework including:
- Working together with partners to map and review the resources required to achieve its goals;
- Clarify its own approach and that of councils to working to reduce disengagement with 19-24 year olds;
- Focus activities on young people most likely to become NEET including young parents and young people with disabilities or chronic illness;
- Ensure that councils and their partners share the Welsh Government targets for reducing the proportion of young people who are NEET; and
- Develop an approach to monitoring and evaluation which enables it to establish good practice and value for money.