The Cost of Social Exclusion. A Study on Social Exclusion, its Costs, and the Impact of Targeted Youth Work
Teemu Vauhkonen & Tommi Hoikkala
The topic of this study is NEET youth, i.e. young people who are not in education, employment, or training. We will discuss the connection between factors related to the young people’s background and having a basic level of education with retaining NEET status, the costs to society of retaining NEET status, and the opportunities and impact of targeted youth work. In this context targeted youth work refers to workshop coaching and outreach youth work.
According to our results having a basic level of education and a disadvantaged background are both often connected to retaining NEET status. Our indicators for a disadvantaged background were the amount of time the parents had received income support, and whether the young person had been in care. Even though there is a connection between having a basic level of education and retaining NEET status, the young people whose parents received income support over prolonged period of time, and those who had been in care, were at a higher risk of retaining NEET status even when they had gained a upper secondary education qualification.
In 2017, 14,400 people under the age of 29 participated in workshop coaching. An examination of their educational backgrounds revealed that the workshop coaching is allocated as intended. Half of the workshop participants did not have a post-basic education qualification (46% only had a basic education, 5% had not completed their basic education). 35 per cent had an upper secondary vocational education qualification, 9 per cent had a matriculation examination as their highest qualification, and 5 per cent had a degree from a higher education institution. 46 per cent of the young people who had participated in workshop coaching in 2017 were taking part in rehabilitative work activities, while 37 per cent were on work try-outs. The majority of the young people who completed the workshop went straight onto education (32%), while the second largest group went onto led activities that were separate from the workshop (22%). Approximately the same numbers of young people went onto work (18%) and became unemployed (19%). The young people’s educational background explains their transition from the workshop into education and work.
We measured the long-term impact of the workshop coaching using the longitudinal material through matching based on the likelihood of participation. We compared the studies and employment over the period 2015–2017 of the young people who completed their workshops in 2015 with that of the young people whose background characteristics gave them the most similar likelihood of taking part in workshop coaching. According to the results, the young people who had completed their workshop in 2015 and who only had a basic education or less were 22 percentage units more likely to be studying at the end of that year than the young people in the control group who only had a basic education or less. At the end of 2016 they were 16 percentage units more likely to be in work than the control group (4 percentage units more likely to be studying). At the end of 2017, those who had completed their workshop in 2015 were only 6 percentage units more likely to be in employment.
The young people with vocational qualifications who completed their workshop in 2015 were only slightly more likely to be in work or education at the end of that year than the young people in the control group, and at the end of the subsequent years their level of employment was significantly lower than that of the young people in the control group. At the end of 2017, however, the young people with a vocational qualification who had completed the workshop were 16 percentage units more likely to be studying than the young people in the control group. The average net income transfers per person in 2015–2017 of the young people who had completed the workshop in 2015 compared to the control group are listed separately for those who have a basic education or less and those who have a vocational qualification. The net income transfers of young people with a basic education or less who had taken part in workshop coaching in 2015 were EUR 1,764 on average, and in 2017 the net income transfers were EUR +4,180 compared with the young people in the control group. The corresponding figures for the young people who participated in the workshop who had a vocational qualification were EUR -972 and EUR -1,746. The workshop coaching therefore seems to produce savings for public finances among the workshop participants who have a basic education or less.
In the register material the fact that young people with a mental health diagnosis seem to gain particular benefits implies that the workshop coaching has psycho-social benefits. Our analyses suggest that the differences in transferring into education and work among NEET youth with a mental health diagnosis who had participated in workshop coaching and those who had not were statistically significant in favour of those who had taken part in workshop coaching even when the impact of background factors was controlled. We measured the impact of the outreach youth work by examining the likelihood of retaining NEET status for a prolonged period of time in municipalities that had launched outreach youth work at different times. We compared the likelihood that young people aged 16–19 (the age group easily reached by outreach youth work) who had NEET status at the end of 2007 would still be in the same situation at the end of 2009 on the one hand in municipalities where the outreach youth work was started in 2008, and on the other hand in municipalities where it was started no earlier than 2011. The controlled models do not show a statistically significant difference between municipalities in the permanence of NEET status before the outreach youth work was launched. The study not only shows that the permanence of the NEET status has increased as a result of the financial crisis, but also that the likelihood of a prolonged NEET status is lower in the municipalities that started offering outreach youth work in 2008 than in the municipalities where the outreach youth work was launched in 2011 or later. In the latter case, the difference was statistically significant.