10 March, 2021

Supporting young people not in Employment, Education and Training during Covid-19

The Covid-19 pandemic has caused unprecedented disruption to young people everywhere, changing their lives beyond recognition.

With the closure of educational establishments and workplaces, this disarray has impacted on both learning and job opportunities.  While this disruption aggravates economic and social inequalities among young people, with disadvantaged young people being the most affected, the impact on young people who are spending time not in employment, education, or training (NEET) could be stark.  

In May 2020, an ONS report estimated 771,000 young people (aged 16-24 years) in the UK were NEET in January to March 2020. This was an increase of 6,000 compared with January to March 2019, and up 8,000 compared with October to December 2019 figures. Further, the Institute of Student Employers reported that many employers would be recruiting fewer entry-level hires because of Covid-19 with:

  • 27% of those surveyed recruiting less graduates
  • 23% less apprentices and school leavers
  • 31% less interns and placement students.  

Many young people who are NEET have also become increasingly isolated and demotivated within Covid times, making engagement and confidence building large areas to focus on.  Instead of judgment, these young people require access to support and mentoring, skills training, work experience and a range of opportunities that support differentiated needs, to have equal opportunities to take an active role in society.

A transformational approach is needed for young people in the NEET group, including:

  • the targeted governmental policies such as Kickstart,
  • economic opportunities and encouragement
  • access to relevant health support
  • help in managing emotions and enhancing social skills
  • help in catching up with lost educational opportunities
  • training in vocational skills, opportunities to gain formal qualifications, and access to work experience.

This is particularly relevant post Covid-19 since there will be greater competition for jobs with less-qualified or inexperienced young people more likely to miss out.  

In Gloucestershire the Youth Support Team have been delivering a blended model of delivery to NEET young people throughout the lockdowns.

* We’ve seen some young people face to face and others via a multitude of social media and video conferencing.  

* NEET staff have designed personal profiles that they can send to a young person to introduce themselves.  This can break the ice especially when face to face work has not been possible.  

* We have invested in extra resources to engage and support NEET young people who feel isolated and are struggling with communication.  

* We have increased the hours that our functional tutor works so he is able to travel to see young people face to face if virtual contact does not work for them.   

* We have employed youth work engagement staff to work with the most disengaged young people and we have developed a more dynamic programme offer that can start with just a few hours building confidence or practical skills like CV writing etc.

This can lead to opportunities such as:

  • work experience
  • 6 week – 6 month traineeships  
  • Apprenticeships
  • the KickStart programme
  • paid employment.

We have very good partnerships with schools, colleges, training providers, the voluntary sector and the local authority and by working together Gloucestershire has been able to keep our NEET figure for 16 and 17 year olds at a positive level that is the best in the South West.


 - This is the first in a series of blogs from our senior management team. Thanks to Lynne Speak, our Head of Service for this one. Click HERE > for more information on our work with NEET.