THE issue of NEETs – defined as people aged 16-24 Not in Employment, Education or Training – has received plenty of attention recently, particularly regarding government incentives to assist and galvanise these young people.
However, a source of assistance of which many may be unaware is The Prince’s Trust charity.
By its own admission, the Isle of Man branch of the charity is not being fully utilised, despite a presence of some 25 years in the island – and it is now looking to put that right.
Chairman Robin James said: ‘We very seldom get approached without publicity or without referral from a carer – although there are a few sporadic applications.’
Applications for financial assistance – of grants from £50-£500 – are considered to help with expenses such as course materials and tools.
Assistance from the Trust is not exclusive to NEETs. Young people can also qualify if they are, or have recently have been, in care, are failing in education, have had trouble with the law or in some cases feel they are stuck in an unsuitable job.
In every case a Prince’s Trust assessor will visit the applicant and help with filling out forms if they are felt to be eligible.
The extent and implications of the NEET issue is difficult to gauge.
A Prince’s Trust report from 2010, called The Cost of Exclusion, quantifies the cost to an economy of young people out of work by considering factors like benefit payments, loss of income tax revenue, productivity loss, decreased spending power of the individual and even cost of crime committed by idle youths.
A Tynwald report from late 2010 puts the number of NEETs in the island as no higher than 500 at any given time, with approximately 300 of those claiming benefits.
Initiatives to address this have included the Department of Economic Development’s recent four-week pilot business course for NEETs culminating in a Dragon’s Den-style presentation from each participant to a panel, followed by a six-week work placement.
Robin said he was impressed by what the Isle of Man Government is doing to tackle the issue.
Voirrey Kennaugh is a long time member of The Prince’s Trust, and is a key part of its team as her full-time role is within the Department of Education’s Youth Service.
She said: ‘When we talk to young people we appreciate the broad range of reasons why they may not be in work. They may be in no position to just pick up a job; at first contact they may have other more basic needs we can assist with.’
If the charity was to receive more inquiries and applications they would be able to justify taking on more staff and offering a wider range of services, like running and offering places on the 12-week TEAM programme, which has proved successful in the UK.
‘I hope we can grow and expand our focus,’ Robin said. ‘There’s a lot of scope to help kids – from running training courses to getting behind young entrepreneurs with great ideas.
‘We may be part of the wider Prince’s Trust organisation but there is no central funding to tap into – all funds raised in the Isle of Man stay here.’