Monitoring the Youth Guarantee policy 2014
This report focuses on the effectiveness of fees-free places and secondary-tertiary programmes in keeping young people in education, assisting them to attain NCEA Level 2 or equivalent and promoting higher level study in tertiary education. It also includes information on employment and other destinations. It covers the period from 2010, when fees-free places were first set up, to 2014.
Author(s): David Earle, Tertiary Sector Performance Analysis, Ministry of Education.
Date Published: July 2016
The Youth Guarantee policy provides opportunities for young people to achieve education success, and progress into further education, training and employment. It supports schools, tertiary education organisations and employers to work together in new ways.
There is a range of initiatives within the Youth Guarantee policy, including fees-free places at tertiary providers and secondary-tertiary programmes. The latter allow young people to remain enrolled at school, while participating in various forms of education delivered by tertiary education organisations. Since 2013, the Youth Guarantee initiatives have included Vocational Pathways as a framework to clarify the options for young people and identify the skills and knowledge valued by employers.
The purpose of monitoring and evaluating the Youth Guarantee policy is to understand the extent to which the desired outcomes of the policy are being met. The educational outcomes of interest are:
- improved retention in school and/or tertiary education
- greater achievement of the National Certificate in Educational Achievement (NCEA) Level 2, or equivalent
- increased progression to tertiary study at level 4 or higher.
The employment outcomes of interest are:
- obtaining sustained employment
- reduced incidence of not being in employment, education or training (NEET)
- reduced incidence of welfare benefit receipt.
The outcomes are explored for the group of young people who started fees-free places and secondary-tertiary programmes in each year. We look at the effect of each programme for those who participated, compared with young people with matching demographic and education characteristics who did not participate (the matched comparison).
By comparing the outcomes of the participants and matched young people, we can estimate how much of the outcome is likely to be due to programme participation rather than the characteristics of the young people.
Participation in Youth Guarantee programmes
In 2014, a total of 16.3% of 18-year-olds in New Zealand had participated in a Youth Guarantee programme, with 12.1% having participated in fees-free places and 4.9% in secondary-tertiary programmes1. This compares with overall participation in these programmes, including Youth Training, of 14.0% in 2013, 12.3% in 2012 and 11.0% in 2011.
In 2014, 87% of 18-year-olds who had participated in fees-free places had lower than average performance at NCEA Level 1 and 50% had been disengaged at school. Males made up 55% of 18-year-olds who had participated up to 2014. The proportion who identified as Māori has increased since 2010 to 43% in 2014, while the proportion identifying as Pasifika has decreased. However, as the total number of participants has increased each year, the actual number of Pasifika participants has increased. Participants were more likely to be from a low decile school and/or a high deprivation neighbourhood than other young people with similar school performance.
Fees-free places were effective in improving retention in education during the year of starting the programme. This effect has been similar since 2010. However, for each starting cohort, the effect did not continue beyond the starting year.
Young people in fees-free places had higher achievement of NCEA Level 2 after starting the programme than the comparison group. The merger with Youth Training reduced this effect for 2012 starters. There has been some improvement for 2013 starters.
Young people who started fees-free places in 2010 and 2011 were more likely than the comparison group to enrol at Level 4 or above within the one or two years following the programme. Those starting in 2012 appear to be less likely than the comparison group to enrol at Level 4 or above within two years.
NCEA Level 2|
(one year after start)
Progression to Level 4 or higher|
(two years after start)
Young people who started fees-free places in 2010 and 2011 were more likely than the comparison group to be in full employment following the programme2. Those starting in 2012 had similar rates of employment following the programme. The programmes appear to have no effect on raising starting earnings for participants. Results for 2010 starters suggest there may be some earnings advantage for participants after four years of employment.
Fees-free places engaged a group of young people who would otherwise have been NEET during the starting year. However, participants were more likely than the comparison group to be NEET one or two years following the programme.
Young people in fees-free places were more likely than the comparison group to receive a benefit during the starting year of the programme. This is likely to be due to the requirement of young people receiving benefits to attend training. However, in the years following the programme, a higher proportion of participants than the comparison group received a welfare benefit.
Main activity is 'Not in |
In 2014, 86% of 18-year-olds who had participated in secondary-tertiary programmes had lower than average performance at NCEA Level 1 and 28% had been disengaged at school. Males made up 68% of 18-year-olds who had participated up to 2014. Thirty-five percent identified as Māori and 12% as Pasifika. These proportions have been similar since 2012. Participants were more likely to be from a low decile school and/or a high deprivation neighbourhood than other young people with similar school performance.
Young people starting secondary-tertiary programmes were already enrolled in education. The programmes were effective in maintaining education retention during the year of starting the programme. This effect did not continue beyond the starting year.
Young people on secondary-tertiary programmes started with similar NCEA Level 2 attainment as the matched comparison group. A larger proportion of those who started the programme achieved NCEA Level 2 or equivalent than the matched comparison group.
Young people who participated in secondary-tertiary programmes had similar rates of progression to Level 4 and above within one or two years as the comparison group.
NCEA Level 2|
(One Year after Start)
Progression to Level 4 or Higher|
(Two Years after Start)
Young people who participated in secondary-tertiary programmes were much more likely than those in the comparison group to be in full employment following the programme. The programmes appear to have an effect on raising starting earnings for participants, as well as increased earnings over a two-year period.
Secondary-tertiary programmes were effective in engaging young people in education who would otherwise have been NEET during the period of the programme. Participants in the programmes were less likely than the comparison group to be NEET following the programme.
Secondary-tertiary programmes are targeted at secondary school students, very few of whom are eligible for a benefit during the period of the programme. However, young people insecondary-tertiary programmes were less likely than the comparison group to receive a benefit following the programme.
Main Activity is 'Not in|
Fees-free programmes had a higher proportion of participants with lower NCEA Level 1 performance and/or had been disengaged at school than secondary-tertiary programmes. This reflects the different target groups of the two programmes. Māori appear to be over-represented in both programmes compared with students with similar school performance, as do students from low decile schools and/or high deprivation neighbourhoods.
Fees-free places and secondary-tertiary programmes were effective in retaining young people in education in the year they started the programme. However, the programmes had no effect on retention after that.
The major effect of both programmes has been on increased attainment of NCEA Level 2 or equivalent. Young people on these programmes were more likely to attain this than young people with similar characteristics in other educational settings.
Neither programme has had a sustained effect, so far, on increasing the proportion of young people who progress to further study at Level 4 and above. There is no evidence that they have provided a more effective pathway to further education and training than other educational choices for a similar group of young people.
There is evidence that both programmes have provided more effective pathways to employment, particularly to full employment. This effect was stronger for secondary-tertiary programmes, which also led to higher earnings.
Both programmes have been effective in engaging young people who would otherwise have been NEET. However, this effect appeared to disappear within one or two years following the programmes in the case of fees-free places, but appeared to be more sustained in the case of secondary-tertiary programmes.
There is no evidence that fees-free places have had any immediate effect on reducing the receipt of welfare benefits. However, secondary-tertiary programmes did seem to have some effect.
- Some young people participated in both programmes.
- Full employment includes those employed in jobs paying a pro-rated wage of greater than two thirds of the minimum wage for at least 6 months of the year.
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