Motivations and barriers to learning for NEET young people

26 February 2013

Based on the latest report from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, we explore the motivations and barriers to learning for young people not in education, employment and training

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(Images credits: Training Journal website and The Guardian website)

In recent years, there has been an increase in the number of young people aged 18-24 that are not in education, employment and training (NEET). Recent figures show that 912,000 young people are NEET in the UK.

To develop a better understanding of who they are, and the circumstances and motivations in which they find themselves, the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) have published extensive research that aims to ensure effective interventions and policies.

BIS commissioned the National Institute of Adult Continuing Education (NIACE) to undertake an analysis of data collected from interviews with young people. NIACE worked with 124 learning providers to collect interview data from over 2,000 adults and young people.

The people interviewed by NIACE fall into one of five different categories: young people with recent experience of being NEET, young people who have applied for a course, young people looking for learning opportunities, young people who want to learn in the future and young people with no plans regarding learning.

Key Findings

From over 800 interviews conducted, some of the most interesting findings were that:

  • Young people find a wide range of factors as a motivation to engage in learning but can also face a number of significant barriers.
  • Securing appropriate employment to gain financial independence was found as the most significant motivation.
  • Giving access to appropriate education & training, good quality, independent information, advice and guidance is crucial.
  • Financial problems are one of the biggest barriers for some young people. At the same time, young people value receiving financial support whilst learning.

Motivations to learning

NIACE found that approximately 75% of the young people interviewed made reference to different factors that had, or would motive them to engage in learning. I found most interesting the following:

  • Almost one half of the young people interviewed find achieving future career aspirations as a motivation for learning
  • Gaining employment or increase employability is a major motivation for learning. Most of the interviewees expressed a strong interest in short courses as they believe this will lead to get employment immediately
  • Gaining a qualification is not only a gateway to gain employment but also a good measure for personal development. Young people have the desire of improving their situation in life or boosting their confidence
  • Receiving the support from someone is considered a strong motivation for learning. This motivation could either come from partners, family members and peers or professional support, including information, advice and guidance
  • Vocational and practical styles of learning as well as the learning environment

Barriers to learning

Around two thirds of young people made references to barriers to learning that had experienced or that are currently facing. I would highlight the following:

  • One in five young people cited family members, partners and peers as a barrier to learning
  • One in six young people made reference to examples of where the format or the content of a course has acted as a barrier for learning. Some of the factors that influence this barrier are the style of learning, the relationship with the teachers, the learning environment and the content of the course creating a lack of interest and enjoyment in the course
  • One in six young people faces financial barriers, particularly related to the costs of the course or a wider financial situation
  • Issues related to the availability of the course or the location of the course or college
  • Personal problems or circumstances related to offending, homelessness, lack of confidence or substance misuse

Final Thoughts

As the country faces a big challenge having a large number of young people NEET, the use of young people's voices as heart of this report will improve the understanding of the situation.

As part of A New Direction's role of connecting young people with arts and culture in London, we are very interested in also connecting them to the current creative industries.

One of our core programmes, CREATE Jobs aims to help young people to get involved into the arts and creative industries through work experiences and apprenticeships. For more information about it click here.

Download BIS Motivation and barriers to learning for young (319.97 kB Pdf)