Youth Guarantee Pathways and Profiles
About the project
This mixed method longitudinal project will explore the experiences of young people on Youth Guarantee Fees-Free NCEA L1-2 programmes at New Zealand TEOs (Tertiary Education Organisations).
The project will collate the perspectives of these young people and their education providers and look at the pathways taken by Youth Guarantee Fees-Free (YGFF) students once they leave the programme.
GFF is part of the wider Youth Guarantee scheme that aims to help all 16-19 year olds gain NCEA L2, enabling progression into further education or employment.
We will be gathering data from students and staff at three multi-site TEOs across New Zealand.
We aim to create a profile of the 2015 student cohort and will track 60 participants for three years after they leave YGFF to gather information on their journeys and destinations.
This research project will be conducted by the Collaborative for Research and Training in Youth Health and Development (The Collaborative).
- Doug Reid, Project Contact Leader, Chief Executive Community Colleges New Zealand
- Dr Ria Schroder, Project Academic Manager, The Collaborative
- Adelaide Reid, Researcher, The Collaborative
- Sarah McKay, Researcher, The Collaborative
Pictured left - right: Doug Reid, Ria Schroder, Sarah McKay and Adelaide Reid.
The purpose of this project is to find out more about the YGFF student cohort, their journeys after their programme and their longer-term destinations.
This will provide information on the effectiveness of the YGFF intervention and allow young people to share their perspectives on the variety of pathways and transitions they experience.
We intend to use this data to improve educational provision and outcomes for this group.
The project aims to answer three research questions:
- What is the profile of young people on the YGFF scheme?
- What are the longer-term effects of educational interventions for this group?
- How do youth participants and service providers perceive the roles of the TEOs and the YGFF scheme in terms of addressing the educational and employment needs of participants?
This project will fill a gap in the literature and will inform not only the participating TEOs but their whole tertiary education sector.
Information about young people’s educational and personal needs and barriers, their transitions from YGFF and longer-term outcomes will help TEOs evaluate whether they are delivering appropriate skills and education, and identify ways in which they can further assist young people.
This will lead to better outcomes for young people as they transition to adulthood.
In December 2016, the project team produced The Youth Guarantee Pathways and Profiles project interim report.
Design / methodology
We plan to profile a 2015 cohort of students enrolled at three YGFF providers. Purposively selected students from this cohort will be tracked over three years following their exit from the TEO.
The mixed method design of the project will involve qualitative and quantitative information being collected and analysed concurrently. Quantitative information for the entire cohort will be gathered through:
- Two surveys in 2015, one completed upon entry and the other on exit from the YGFF programme
- Data held by TEOs e.g. qualifications, outcomes and literacy and numeracy progressions
Quantitative data will form the basis of the profile and qualitative data will examine any themes and trends which emerge. Qualitative data will be gathered from:
- One-on-one interviews with 60 participants from 2015 until approximately the end of 2018
- Focus groups with staff from participating TEOs during 2015
Qualitative interviews will be the main vehicle for exploring the longer-term pathways of students and will be supported by quantitative data. This method suits our aim of telling the stories of young people from their perspective. The outcomes and pathways of students will be analysed thematically.
We expect that benefits of this project will be experienced by students and providers throughout the project as well as at project completion and beyond.
The overall aim of this project is to see to what extent that YGFF students receive the education, skills and support they need to achieve their aspirations. Improved TEO performance will lead to benefits for their whānau and communities with flow on economic benefits for the country.
Expected outcomes which contribute to this are listed below.
TEOs will have a greater understanding of student characteristics including their needs, motivations, expectations and pathways which will lead to appropriate and effective education, support and information on post-study pathways for YGFF students. This will also enable more accurate profiling of new students, with those who may require extra support identified early on.
The participating TEOs should experience an increase in retention and positive outcomes of students due to a greater understanding of students’ needs.
We anticipate that the participating TEOs will introduce changes throughout the project as findings are shared with them. Successful strategies will be shared with others in the sector.
Involvement in the project will lift the research capacity of the participating TEOs who may continue their own research as a result of the project.
The project findings will contribute to existing knowledge in youth transitions, foundation education and the evaluation of YGFF.
Progress to date
In 2015, learners participated in two surveys; one at the beginning of the year and another as they exited their Youth Guarantee Fees Free programme. Data analysis is underway and results will be included in the first project report due in November 2016.
Two rounds of one-on-one qualitative interviews have been conducted with learners. Sixty three learners participated in the initial interviews, and so far fifty three have participated in the second round of interviews, which are completed as learners exit their Youth Guarantee Fees Free programme. We are currently conducting the third round of interviews, and carrying out qualitative analysis on the first two rounds of interview data.
TEO staff have participated in three focus groups to share their perspectives on the benefits and limitations of Youth Guarantee Fees Free in meeting the educational and employment needs of young people.
Collaborating organisations: Community Colleges New Zealand, The Collaborative, National Council of YMCA New Zealand and Unitec Institute of Technology.
June 2017: Our interim report was published in December 2016, and discussed findings from the first two waves of interviews and the entry and exit surveys with learners. We have now entered the second phase of the project, and are focused on the analysis of the third and fourth waves of interviews with learners. The fifth wave of interviews will be conducted later this year. Third and fourth wave interviews took place at 6 months and one year respectively since learners’ departure from their 2015 Youth Guarantee Fees Free programme. We have also completed analysis of the focus groups held with staff from the participating education providers. The findings from the data collected from Youth Guarantee learners and staff to date are outlined below.
Findings from interviews with Youth Guarantee learners:
The interim report discussed participants’ experiences with employment and education, including Youth Guarantee Fees Free, explored their pathways in and out of Youth Guarantee, their needs, aspirations and the challenges they face. A clear message was the importance of individual characteristics, needs and contexts in understanding the varied transitions and experiences of Youth Guarantee Fees Free participants. The main themes from this report were as follows.
- Consistent support from others created a solid base from which participants could plan their next step. Participants reported that having support increased their motivation and self-confidence, helped them overcome challenges and provided information about and access to education and employment.
- Positive relationships between participants and their teachers and peers enabled learning, achievement and provided access to support. According to participants these relationships developed when their needs were understood and met, and they were treated with respect.
- Participants wanted the opportunity to manage themselves and take control over decisions that affected them. They reported that their Youth Guarantee providers encouraged self-responsibility which increased their engagement and led to personal development and improved self-management skills.
- Positive learning experiences and achievement in education increased participants’ self-confidence and motivation. This facilitated skill development and a number of participants reported that it had changed the way they thought about themselves and their futures.
Overall, the findings from the third and fourth interviews with Youth Guarantee fees free learners align with the conclusions drawn from analysis of interviews one and two. In the third and fourth interviews, we asked participants what was helping them do well and what challenges they faced.
1. Support from others
- This support came predominantly from whānau and friends, some participants reported ongoing support from education providers and other support services.
- Support in the form of information and networks through which to access education and employment was particularly important to participants in interviews three and four.
2. Skills and self-development
- The majority of the skills for education and employment reported by participants were gained through their Youth Guarantee programmes and continued to develop through further education and employment experiences.
- Communication and social skills and cultural competence had improved interactions with others
- Skills for employment, i.e. writing CVs and cover letters and interview techniques were useful in participants’ next step
- Improved self-management skills helped participants in education and in employment
- Participants reported that these skills increased their confidence in their ability to successfully navigate the future
3. Personal motivation
- Participants gained motivation from their support networks, gaining independence, having a sense of purpose and doing something that they were interested in and enjoyed
- Immediate concerns such as money influenced participants’ decisions in the short-term
- Participants’ overall trajectories were guided by ideas about the sort of person they wanted to be in the future and what they could see themselves doing.
The types of challenges participants encountered at interviews three and four and the impact of these varied according to individual context and the degree of support available to participants. These challenges included:
- Difficulty accessing support and knowledge about education and employment
- Trouble navigating systems, e.g. student loans, higher education entry criteria.
- Difficulty finding employment, due to lack of experience, or the limited options available.
- Seasonal, short-term or casual employment prevented the development of long-term plans.
- Some participants identified themselves as a potential barrier to future success; this was mostly related to a lack of motivation, confidence and time and self-management.
Overall the findings from the third and fourth interviews support the conclusions drawn from the first two interviews. As we begin to understand participants’ experiences over time, it is becoming clear that there is tension between the view of transitions on which the Youth Guarantee policy is based, and the narratives of our participants. The policy is informed by a linear view of transition in which the educational intervention sets young people on the ‘right’ path for the future. We have found that our participants’ transitions experiences are not linear, and in many cases involve young people trying out multiple pathways as they search for a route which matches their current needs and ideas about who and/or what they want to be. The young people in this project experience Youth Guarantee as part of their own process of self-development rather than as a one-off event which determines their future direction. This does not change the overall findings of this project, however it does indicate a disconnect between policy and the experiences of our participants.
Findings from staff focus groups:
The focus groups held with staff from the education providers participating in the project were designed to capture organisational perspectives on working within the Youth Guarantee Fees Free framework.
There were clear themes relating to the value of Youth Guarantee, learner needs, the challenges in meeting these, and what is needed to improve the current system. Staff valued that Youth Guarantee gave young people who had not succeeded in mainstream education the opportunity to gain qualifications, personal development and experience educational success. They spoke about the vital role of support and relationships in engaging young people and meeting their needs, and discussed how challenges faced by young people can affect their experience and achievement in Youth Guarantee.
Of interest is the strong feedback that while Youth Guarantee Fees Free is suitable for some learners, its structure is not conducive to achieving success for all learners. Staff attributed this to a lack of alignment between the needs of their learners and the Youth Guarantee framework. The main criticism was the lack of flexibility within Youth Guarantee to meet the needs of a diverse group of young people. Specifically, the lack of flexibility in the time that learners have to achieve on Youth Guarantee Fees Free, and the narrow definition of achievement which does not capture all of the personal or educational gains made by learners. The staff who participated in focus groups felt that changes to the Youth Guarantee fees free framework are needed to create a system that is learner-centred and supports staff to meet learners’ needs.
- Ako Aotearoa $157,555 (excl. GST)
- Community College New Zealand $157,555 (excl. GST)
- Project commenced: Start 2015
- Expected project completion: Mid 2019
|The report from this project is published under the Creative Commons 3.0 New Zealand Attribution Non-commercial Share Alike Licence (BY-NC-SA). Under this licence you are free to copy, distribute, display and perform the work as well as to remix, tweak, and build upon this work non-commercially, as long as you credit the author/s and license your new creations under the identical terms.|