The National Care Advisory Service has hailed as unprecedented government plans to fund it to organise work experience, training and mentoring programmes for care leavers with national employers.
Companies such as Serco, Reed, Norwich Union and BAA have already agreed to support the initiative, which is due to be piloted in nine authorities in 2009-10, extended to half of England’s councils by 2010-11 and rolled out nationwide thereafter.
John Hill, national manager of the NCAS, said: “This is the first national initiative, bringing together local and national partners including central government, that will focus on developing the most effective career opportunities for young people in and from care.
“It will raise the profile of this group of young people, highlighting their individual needs, but also their aspirations and the enormous range of talent they possess.”
As part of the initiative, individual career plans will be developed for care leavers covering a period of two to eight years. The National Apprenticeship Service will work with the NCAS to offer all care leavers an apprenticeship place from September 2009.
Joyce Moseley, chief executive of Catch22, said: “This project will provide an essential step-up into employment for young people in care as they move to become independent, particularly those who find it hard to access even the lowest level of mainstream skills support.”
The scheme is the latest government measure to tackle the high rates of care leavers who are not in education, employment and training (Neets), following a string of proposals in the 2007 white paper on looked-after children, Care Matters, including:-
- Giving care leavers access to a personal adviser until the age of 25, up from 21.
- Forging links with private firms including BT to increase apprenticeships and employment opportunities for care leavers.
- Providing care leavers who go into higher education with a £2000 bursary.
Target to cut care leaving Neets
In 2007, the government also established a high-level target to increase the number of 19-year-old care leavers in education, employment and training from 2008-11 from a baseline of 62%, as part of a public service agreement on socially excluded adults.
However, just eight of the 150 local strategic partnerships in England selected this target as one of 35 local priorities in their local area agreement for 2008-11, though 115 selected a target to cut the number of Neets overall