Neath Port Talbot has seen a big drop in the number of young people not in employment, education or training (NEETS).
Lowering youth unemployment and aiming to effectively engage as many young people as possible in the world of work, is now at the heart of Neath Port Talbot Council’s policy agenda.
In 2016 the Council was ranked the worst performing authority in Wales with regards to Year 11 school leavers becoming NEET with 3.6% (56 young people) of school leavers not in education, employment and training on October 31st of that year.
Now however – thanks to a more collaborative approach involving the Council’s youth service, Careers Wales and schools in Neath Port Talbot – the authority has attained its lowest ever year 11 destination figure of 2.3% (34 young people).
While this is still below the Welsh average of 1.6%, work continues to improve the Council’s performance still further.
And successes in youth work engagement work in Neath Port Talbot as part of the drop in NEET figures have included two particularly moving stories.
They include the case of an 18-year-old who despite caring for her terminally ill mother was helped and supported to successfully apply for an apprenticeship with Neath Port Talbot Council.
And another teenager who had not been to school for a year due to anxiety issues so acute she could not leave her house, was helped to pass exams and enrol on a Prince’s Trust Skills and Training Programme and she has now enrolled on a college leisure and tourism course.
The NEET improvement was outlined in a report by Neath Port Talbot Council’s Head of Participation Chris Millis to members of the Council’s Education, Skills and Culture Committee at Port Talbot’s Civic Centre this week.
“Neath Port Talbot Youth Service’s work with NEET young people is funded through three external grants, the Welsh Government funded Communities First Legacy Grant, Youth Support Grant and an ESF (European Social Fund) Cam Nesa Grant.”
The committee heard the 18-year-old who had been caring for her mother, who has now died, said of her Cam Nesa funded worker: “She was extremely supportive through a very difficult time for me due to my mother passing away, I was able to confide in her and ask for support if and when I needed it.”
The other teenager, helped by a First Legacy Grant funded worker to the point where she is now volunteering to help other young people, said she felt without the support of NPT’s Youth Service she would “still be in her house doing nothing”.
As well as providing one-to-one support, youth workers also do group sessions, provide accredited courses and personal and social development opportunities, plus breakfast, school and after-lunch clubs and employability related activities.
Neath Port Talbot Council’s Cabinet Member for Education, Skills and Culture, Councillor Peter Rees said:
“With a much better collaboration between the Youth Service, Careers Wales and schools and also an improved multi-agency approach to supporting transition we now have our lowest ever year 11 destination figure.”