Improving access to education and employment for young adult carers

16 May 2014

Pilots for four local support networks coordinated by NIACE have inspired the development of new resources, to improve access to education and employment for young adult carers aged 16-25.

As part of the WE Care project NIACE set up and supported four local pilot networks – in Leicester, Blackpool, York and County Durham – led by organisations that work with young adult carers, bringing together key stakeholders to plan and develop co-ordinated approaches to engaging and supporting young adult carers.

During the project NIACE consulted over 40 young adult carers, whose views have influenced the development of the resources, contributed to the local networks and formed part of a series of blogs. NIACE also consulted with a number of learning providers and support agencies who are developing effective practice in supporting young adult carers to make effective transitions in learning and work.

The new resources developed include the Really Useful Book of Learning and Earning for Young Adult Carers and Case studies of effective practice in supporting young adult carers to make positive transitions in learning and work. NIACE has also developed a series of financial capability resources for staff working directly with young adult carers, which will be distributed through a number of free workshops taking place in June in London, Leicester and Manchester.

Carol Taylor, NIACE Deputy Chief Executive for Development and Research, said:

“The We Care project has underlined the significant impact that caring responsibilities have on young adult carers’ participation in learning and work, making them more likely to be NEET than their peers and to achieve fewer and lower level qualifications. It has also served to highlight disadvantages and challenges they all too often experience including poverty, social isolation, bullying, discrimination, low confidence and mental health difficulties.

“However, there is a range of support that learning providers can put in place to enable young adult carers to engage in learning, progress and achieve their potential. The resources we have developed as part of WE Care include measures to support identification and disclosure of caring responsibilities, flexible provision, financial capability, one to one and peer group sessions, and managing a range of personal issues.

“A key element for advancing this work is the recent announcement of the continuation of the National Policy Forum on Young Adult Carers. In just one year it has effectively highlighted the impact of policy on young adult carers’ participation in education, training and employment and has contributed towards ensuring that young adult carers’ needs are at the heart of the emerging policy agenda. One of the Forum’s outcomes has been the establishment of a cross government Task and Finish Group, currently being taken forward by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and the Department of Health.”