The Cabinet Member was given an update on the successful I-Step Up programme, and requested that outstanding funds be allocated to a reserve account to enable spend on this programme of work in future years.
The programme was developed by Derbyshire County Council to address a gap in existing provision for young people transitioning to work, learning or training at the end of Year 11 by providing young people with the skills and knowledge they need to make a positive progression. The programme had been featured by the Local Government Authority as an area of best practice and had generated interest from outside Derbyshire.
Eligibility for the programme was organised to be delivered in the locality/district/borough where there was highest number of young people at risk of being not in employment, education and training (NEET) and where individuals were identified within schools as being at risk of NEET and had no identified destination at end of years 11 and 13. The programme was delivered by the Council’s Adult Community Education Service (DACES) and aimed to encourage young people to identify positive destinations for themselves through a mix of activities, including links with private sector businesses. Delivered over a three/four-week period, young people were required to attend for three days each week, for five hours per day.
Delivery of the programme was impacted by COVID-19 in 2020: the programme therefore piloted an online format which had run for the last 12 months. It was tailored to the needs of the cohort and individuals attending the course developed meaningful relationships throughout the programme. Tutors helped participants not only to navigate the work and support them to address wider issues that were impacting on the prospect of them remaining NEET such as family dynamics, substance misuse and engaging in antisocial behaviour. It also developed a range of skills, including teamwork and communication, financial planning and budgeting, CV writing and interview skills along with actual work experience.
The advent of online delivery from 2021 meant there were no longer restrictions on geographical locations, thereby making the programme more flexible and widely accessible. Both face to face and online delivery were available to ensure as many young people as possible were involved, especially those in more isolated parts of the County. Moving to online provision meant the course could be offered over more months and in multiple locations simultaneously.
In January 2020, the Employment and Skills Board agreed that the programme would be funded and expanded for a period of three years at the cost of £50,000 per annum. Due to the challenges of the pandemic, course redesign and equipment procurement, only one course was run during 2020-2021 which resulted in an underspend of £50,000. It was proposed this funding be rolled over into a reserve account for use in future years and provide the additional benefit of being able for use as match if external funding became available. Whilst it was planned and expected that funds would be fully spent in future years (including the reserve fund), it was also requested that any underspends from 2021-2022 onwards be rolled forward into the same reserve.
RESOLVED that the Cabinet Member (1) note the success of the I-Step Up programme;
(2) approve the request to create a reserve fund I-Step Up to carry forward the underspend from 2020-21 and support continued delivery of the programme over the coming years; and
(3) approve that any underspends from 2021-2022 onwards be rolled forward into the same reserve.