Supporting NEETs into construction

This final section considers options that may address some the barriers identified in supporting NEETS into employment within construction. 

 

No More Lost Generations (Chevin, 2014) identified a number of activities that may assist NEETs into employment including the use of Section 106 commitments, part of the Town and country Planning Act 1990. This stipulates obligations on developers in terms of community benefit in order to gain planning consent. It recommended  NEET engagement be a key performance indicators (KPI), placing a commitment on the developer to ensure that NEETs are engaged on a project. That said Chevin also highlighted that Section 106s are often considered tick box exercises, frequently having the get-out clause of ‘use of best endeavours’. 

 

The report also recommended employment and skills teams on major projects. One of the UKs largest construction projects, the Olympic Park set KPIs for the employment of a range of underrepresented groups within the industry, BAME, women, disabled, local residents (residents of the five host boroughs), and long term unemployed, but not NEETs. To support this endeavour a team of Employment and Skills Managers (ESMs) were employed to support contractors in achieving these targets (Minnaert, 2014). 

 

At the end of construction, a number of ‘lessons learned’ documents were produced, one focussing on the success of the ESM team in meeting the project’s KPIs, with comparisons to the overall achievements of the Park development (Thrush, Eley and Martin, 2011). While employers on the project exceeded three of the five KPIs, where the ESM team were measured, all but the unemployed category, the outcomes far exceeded all KPIs. 

A lack of experience, is often cited as a barrier to NEETs entering the industry. Unpaid work experience may not be suitable for many NEETs if it impacts benefits, but paid work experience may provide a possible alternative. In the early 2000’s there were a number of organisations across the country operating Intermediate Labour Market (ILM) programmes.  These provided paid work experience, with support and ongoing personal development training (Marshall and Macfarlane, 2000). 

 

Evaluation of an ILM programme delivered in Wales concluded that it generated significant benefits to the participants, 55% securing employment by the end of the programme (Roberts et al., 2012). It should be noted that this was during the economic downturn following the 2008 recession, it could be assumed that if not for the recession success rate would have been higher. Finn and Simmonds (2003) found construction made up the largest proportion of ILM based work experiences. It was highlighted in the report that some considered ILMs an expensive method of engagement and did not provide value for money. 

 

Job-carving is a method utilised in developing roles suitable for individuals with disabilities. Graff (2013) defines job carving as reviewing a skilled job role, identifying elements that could be taken on by someone with no specific skills in that role, and using these to create a supporting role. A range of articles review this process (Citron et al. 2008; Condon et al., 2004; Nietupski and Hamre-Nietupski, 2000; Griffin, 1994). They detailed the benefits these roles offer both to the individual; including the ability to gain work experience and earn a wage, and to the employer; including improvement to productivity. 

 

Griffin (1994) detailed how this allowed the skilled tradesperson to focus on the key areas of their role, and as such become more productive, while other tasks are undertaken by a support operative. Although this has been targeted at people with disabilities, which may include NEETs, it could provide a route into the industry for NEETs with no previous experience.   It would allow them to gain insight in to a role while earning a wage and developing the employability skills, lack of which has already been identified as a barrier to employment. 

 

An OFSTED report (2010) identified that NEETs are attracted to short courses, in small groups, and in non-traditional settings. There are a number of third sector organisations that manage style of training, such as Serious About Youth, Prince’s Trust Get into Construction, Down to Earth and Construction Youth Trust. These courses provide learners with the opportunity to develop basic construction skills and gain an insight in to the industry through guest speakers from the sector. Many offer the opportunity to gain the qualification required in order to undertake a Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS) test. Post-course the organisations provide employment support. It appears that many organisations involved in these types of projects do not publish success statistics, which makes it difficult to quantify the benefits they offer. As such this could present an area for future research, both in terms of NEETs’ progression into employment, and their value to employers. 

 

Simmons et al. (2014) propose a number of possible actions that could be implemented to reengage NEETs. Among these are the use of licence to practice, currently not a requirement in most areas of construction, although CSCS and Construction Plant Competence Scheme are often mandated by employers, and a reintroduction of training levies, which the construction industry still has and which funds the CITB. In addition, they propose a Youth Resolution, this would guarantee a living wage, structured training, workplace support and mentoring and personal development. This resolution would address a number of barriers faced by NEETs moving into construction.

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