Career Connect

Career Connect has published the results of a targeted early intervention programme in Sefton which has led to an increase in positive education, employment and training destinations for young people when they reach the age of 16.

Career Connect’s report offers an in-depth evaluation of the Sefton NEET (Not in Education, Employment or Training) Reduction and Early Intervention Service, which targets young people from Year 9 onwards who are identified as being ‘at risk of NEET’ due to a range of factors.

Career Connect has delivered the service, commissioned by Sefton Council via their Employment and Learning team, since 2019, when the Council moved from a solely post-16 model of careers support for NEET young people, to proactive intervention.

Intensive one-to-one support

The early intervention model supplements the careers advice and support provided in schools with intensive one-to-one support from an independent adviser for those identified as in need.

Building a strong relationship with the young person and their family/carers, Career Connect advisers assist in identifying and helping remove barriers, supporting the young person to stay engaged with learning, raise their aspirations, explore their strengths and plan for the future.

The early intervention service is integral to the Council’s post-16 service, helping to provide continuity for those targeted young people as they make the positive transition to post-16 education, employment or training destinations.

Significantly improved outcomes

In the four years since targeted early interventions began, the programme has seen significantly improved outcomes for young people across Sefton making the transition from Year 11, despite the disruptions caused by Covid and the cost-of-living crisis.

Of those pre-16 young people identified as being ‘At Risk of NEET’, and supported by Career Connect as part of the early intervention model, the study shows:

  • reductions of between 1 and 16.8 in the percentage of at-risk young people that are NEET upon leaving school.
  • a reduction of between 53-78 days in the average number of days those young people spent NEET.

The early intervention model has also led to a substantial positive impact on the number of young people whose status is ‘Not Known’ at the beginning of Year 12.

In October 2022, only 0.1% of young people in Sefton had a ‘Not Known’ status. This compares with an average of 1.2% across the Northwest and 2.8% across England.

Reducing the number of ‘Not Known’ outcomes among young people

Reducing the number of young people whose status is ‘Not Known’ post-16 is critical in enabling services to identify and target those most in need of support to access education, employment or training.

Nationally, Sefton performs better than the average of all authorities in England for its combined NEET and ’Not Known’ figure, and consistently ranks in the top two compared with its statistical neighbours.

Read the full report HERE

The positive outcomes in Sefton come as the number of 16 and 17-year-olds across the country who are classed as Not In Education, Employment or Training is rising rapidly.

More young people across the country are also presenting with complex needs that can become barriers to post-16 education, employment, and training.

Using the learnings from Sefton, Career Connect’s report shares best practice and makes a number of recommendations for local and national government to consider when it comes to targeted early intervention support.

Examples of best practice in targeted early intervention careers support identified in the report include:

  • The expansion of the post-16 service to those most vulnerable in Years 9-11.
  • A collaborative and co-ordinated approach between local authorities, schools and Local Authority agencies, supporting those most at risk, including SEND, care experienced, and those engaged with youth justice.
  • Flexible and bespoke provision, based on the changing needs of each young person.
  • Clear pathways for young people that are not ready for education, employment or training (EET) provision at 16.
  • Placing a trusting relationship between the young person and their Careers Adviser at the centre.
  • Access to specialist advisers to deliver intensive support – e.g., with an understanding of Special Educational Needs, Youth Justice, Care Experience, Social Care.
  • A ‘no wrong door’ approach and co-location of support services wherever possible.
  • A whole family approach including signposting to family members/carers.
  • Regular consultation with young people and carers to shape the service.
  • Continued support for those on the programme as they make the transition from school to post-16 Employment, Education or Training provision.

Career Connect’s recommendations for local and national government to consider: 

  1. Funding allocation for authorities that supports the provision of fair and equitable access to Careers Services to all young people. Local authority funded interventions for those with additional needs from Year 9 should be the default provision for those most at risk of NEET, allowing for continuity of support for those most in need from age 14-18, or to 24 for those young people who are SEND.
  2. Funding allocation to and within local authorities that is based on evidence of emerging risk levels in school leaver cohorts, while maintaining support to those that become NEET post-16.
  3. High quality data should play a much greater role in the provision of careers services to young people most at risk.
  4. Much greater sharing of evidence and learning of what works in supporting most at risk young people into education, employment or training  provision, between local authorities, delivery partners and agencies such as Youth Futures Foundation – that promote the use of evidence in the design and delivery of services.
  5. Greater investment in the production of evidence that has operational value, and which can guide more impactful services.

Read the full report:



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