Exclusive: Youth vocational training scheme failing to achieve desired results

A flagship Government scheme aimed at getting young people into further education and employment is failing to do either. 

The scheme is aimed at getting young people into further education and employment, but it's failing to do either. Source: 1 NEWS

Aimed at 16 and 17 year olds, the Youth Guarantee Scheme has cost around half a billion dollars, but people aren't staying in it, aren't studying and aren't staying off benefits. 

The Ministry of Education praises trade academies, but it's critical of the fees-free taxpayer-funded programme feeding into some of the academies, known as the Youth Guarantee Scheme. 

Labour leader Andrew Little says some parts of the Youth Guarantee Scheme are seeing young people "far worse than young people who haven't gone in it".

However Tertiary Education Minister Steven Joyce says these are some of the hardest cases in terms of trying to get  them back into the system. 

"They've already fallen out of the system."

Generally, trade academies have young people training with them two days a week and the rest of the time at school.

But the other part of the Youth Guarantee Scheme is for those who've dropped out of school.

The scheme is supposed to help them gain school qualifications and get them into work.

The Government has spent $500 million on it over the past five years.

But an Education Ministry review has found no evidence the scheme gets participants off welfare benefits, youth guarantee students are less likely to progress to higher tertiary education and while the scheme appears good at retaining students for their first year, retention drops off after that.

"It looks like this is a tick box exercise that is about meeting the Government's better public service targets, not about the people," Mr Little said.

Mr Joyce said: "It's important we achieve level  two qualifications for these young people. I'm pleased with that, but I think we can do some more with employment."

So while Youth Guarantee Scheme students are completing Level 2  NCEA at higher rates, the problem is they aren't going on to further training or employment after that.