Youth training: Statistical profile 1999-2008 Publications
This report provides participation and labour market outcome analysis of the Youth Training programme between 1999 and 2008, using the Youth Training administrative dataset. This is the first time this information has been made available in a single analysis.
The report provides analyses of participation in the programme, and provides statistical modelling of the factors related to transition to Youth Training from school, and the factors associated with labour market outcomes two months after leaving placements.
Author(s): Paul Mahoney, Tertiary Sector Performance Analysis, Ministry of Education.
Date Published: February 2010
Youth Training is a programme that provides training for young people at a high risk of unemployment. This paper examines the Youth Training administrative dataset to gain insight into the operation of Youth Training between 1999 and 2008, tracking various facets of the Youth Training programme across time to determine participation trends and changes. It provides participation and outcome information and it uses statistical modelling to determine the factors associated with entrance to and the outcomes of Youth Training.
The analysis finds that participation in Youth Training declined between 1999 and 2008, in line with the number of learners leaving school with low or no qualifications, but not always in line with the youth low qualified unemployment rate or the Not in Education, Employment or Training (NEET) rate. We consider therefore that the statistical connection between youth risk of unemployment and Youth Training participation is not as clear as might be expected.
We find that some of the characteristics that correlate well with participation in Youth Training within three years of leaving school include: the number of NCEA credits attained at school; the proportion of unit standards taken in NCEA over achievement standards; the decile of the last school attended, and whether the trainee was granted an early leaving exemption from school.
Just under half of all Youth Training participants are Māori, another 40 percent are European, 10 percent are Pasifika, with other groups making up the remainder. These proportions have remained fairly constant since Youth Training's inception in 1999. When compared to the target population for Youth Training, that is, young people with low or no qualifications, Māori are overrepresented in Youth Training, while European people are under-represented. There have been targets for Māori and Pasifika participation in the programme, and these may help to explain this.
As would be expected, given the age targeting of the programme to under 18 years on initial acceptance into the programme, most participants are aged 15, 16 or 17 years old. The proportion of learners aged 15 years reached a high of 35 percent in 2005 but has dropped in 2008 to just over 23 percent, reflecting increased school retention, largely due to changes to early leaving exemption rules. This has led to an increasing frequency of placements by older people than previously. In addition, the average age of trainees has risen because learners are now more likely to have had multiple placements in Youth Training.
We find that placements are also increasing in duration. It has been argued that a reduction in newer recruits and an increase in the duration and number of placements for existing participants, is due to the fact the current crop of learners require more attention and longer intervention, presumably because they have deeper needs. However, because the programme is age-targeted, we would expect a flow of new, young entrants at each age, as each year passes. There are obviously potential new participants in the wider population: the youth unemployment and NEET rates show their continued existence. It is beyond the scope of this report to explore why Youth Training doesn't reach those young people; further work is needed to establish the reasons for this lack of fit.
There has been some increase in the proportion of learners who attain a 'positive' outcome two months after leaving Youth Training. The proportion of placement outcomes deemed positive has increased from 76 percent in 1999 to 84 percent in 2008, and most of this increase has occurred in the proportion of learners gaining full-time employment (around 10 percentage points). However, statistical modelling shows that a successful outcome is quite heavily determined by factors external to the Youth Training programme. Taking all other factors into account, the largest predictors of an employment or further training outcome at the end of each placement are participants' previous employment history (whether they have worked before entering Youth Training); external factors such as the date (taken as a proxy measure for the prevailing economic and associated labour market conditions), and the learner's geographic location.
The fact that better employment outcomes are gained over time can be accounted for in part by the increase in the proportion of participants entering the programme who have some form of prior work experience, and in part by the recovery of regional employment markets. The labour market deteriorated for young people in 2008, no doubt a consequence of the early effects of the recent economic downturn on the vulnerable industries that young people predominantly participate in. Youth Training employment outcomes dropped from 33 percent in 2007 to 26 percent in 2008 accordingly.
However, there can be no doubt that participation in Youth Training programmes does have some positive effect, at least for learners with the ability to earn credits. Credit attainment is a strong predictor of success in Youth Training, and credit attainment is strongly associated with placement duration in Youth Training. Employment is the most likely outcome of placements only for those learners who gain more than 20 credits in a single placement, but most participants do not attain this number of credits per placement. Most learners now attain over 30 credits in total in Youth Training, but they do so over multiple spells on Youth Training: the majority of learners (65 percent on average) earn 15 or fewer credits per placement, and 45 percent earn 5 or fewer credits per placement (34 percent earn no credits). This implies that the majority of learners will not attain an employment outcome on leaving their first, or even second placement.
If a learner has high ability and earns lots of credits in as few placements as possible, then they are likely to be successful in the labour market two months after leaving. If they attain lots of credits, but over multiple placements (over 4 placements) then their chances of success in the labour market is diminished compared to the first scenario. This is likely to reflect employer's willingness to engage 'the best people' they can. Multiple placements in Youth Training do lead to increasing odds of engaging in further training outside the programme, which may lead to labour market success further downstream.
The number of placements undertaken by each learner is an important determinant of outcomes, and this along with credit attainment / duration, could be used as a measure of programme quality. Do multiple spells in Youth Training improve learners' chances? The data suggests that taking into account other factors (such as education and employment histories) multiple participation does improve learner's chances of gaining employment, but only up to a point, after which it seems to begin to reduce their chances of immediate labour market success (but not to the point of being worse off than before they first participated). Having more than two placements in Youth Training seems to reduce participants' chances of gaining employment or a further training outcome, though why this is so isn't clear.
On balance it seems likely that participation in multiple Youth Training programmes in some ways 'marks' participants as lacking the skills and abilities employers look for in potential employees. The counter argument, that only learners with high needs participate in multiple programmes, and these are the ones who are least likely to succeed, does not follow when one considers that learners leaving after one placement are less likely to attain an employment than an other outcome. If 'need' and number of programmes participated in are positively correlated, then those leaving a first programme placement would do much better than they seem to do.
There are ethnic and gender group differences in the outcomes for trainees, when all other variables are taken into account. For European participants, the odds of a negativeoutcome are significantly lowerthan for other types of outcome, but for Māori and Pasifika the opposite is true: unemployment /being out of the labour market is the most likely outcome.
The same pattern exists for males over females. Females do not fare as well as males, controlling for other factors. Males are least likely to attain a negative outcome, while females are most likely to.
Demand for places in Youth Training will no doubt increase as a consequence of the economic downturn, and it will be interesting to assess if this change follows the NEET and the youth unemployment rate. Youth Training employment labour market outcome rates are also likely to continue to decline in the short to medium term as a consequence of rising youth unemployment.