Cabinet Office has hired Ecorys to evaluate its £16 million payment by results Youth Engagement Fund. The evaluation will take a multifaceted approach, from case studies to group comparisons.
The number of youth not in employment, education or training (NEETs) in the UK remains stubbornly high. Young people caught in neither work nor employment risk becoming trapped there, and are more likely than other groups to becoming long term benefit dependents, have low employability prospects and become offenders.
To tackle the issue, a number of initiatives have been put forward, including the £16 million payment by results Youth Engagement Fund. “Improving young people’s skills and employability is a key priority for this government. Youth unemployment is falling, but there’s always more we can do. That is why we are launching the Youth Engagement Fund to encourage wider investment to ensure all our young people – including some of the most disadvantaged – are given the best chance of securing a job and creating a positive future for themselves,” said Iain Duncan Smith, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, back in July 2014 when the fund was launched.
The fund is operated through social impact bonds (SIBs), and is co-founded by a range of government bodies, including the Cabinet Office, Ministry of Justice (MoJ) and Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). The fund is targeted at 14 to 17 year olds, and aims to boost their participation in education or training, as well as improve their overall wellbeing.
To evaluate the effectiveness of the fund, and its four major projects, the Cabinet Office has called in independent advisory firm Ecorys. The research and consultancy firm will evaluate the impact and effectiveness of the programme, as well as look at how the programme was managed.
The firm will design a range of metrics regarding the effectiveness of the programme, including comparing the outcomes of programme beneficiaries against a comparison group using a quasi-experimental approach. The evaluation process, in addition, includes a number of interviews with stakeholders, longitudinal interviews, focus groups with the young participants, and case study visits.