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New data shows minimal change to destination choices for 2020 school leavers despite the pandemic

THE results of an annual survey recording the destinations of school leavers in Wales in 2020 show that students leaving school during the first Covid-19 wave were largely unaffected in terms of their next steps.

The ‘Pupil Destinations 2020’ survey, conducted by Careers Wales on behalf of the Welsh Government, reports on the destinations of pupils in years 11 to 13 after finishing the year, whether that might be continuing in full time education, moving into the labour market, entering training opportunities, or becoming NEET (not in education, employment or training).

Results show that the overwhelming majority of young people opted to continue in full time education with 89.7% in 2020 choosing this route, remaining consistent with the previous year’s result of 86.8% of pupils.

Staying in full time education continues to be the most popular choice across the three year-groups representing 90.4% of Year 11s, 95.7% of Year 12s and 80% of Year 13s in 2020. All of these figures reflect a percentage increase of at least 2% from the previous year, when this choice was made by 88.2% of Year 11s, 92.8% of Year 12s and 75.6% of Year 13s.

The next most popular choice among Year 13s was to enter government supported training and work with 11.9% choosing one of these options. A much smaller 6.4% and 2.2% of younger Year 11 and Year 12 pupils opted for this route respectively.

Entering employment came in as the third favourite route to take, standing at 2% for Year 11, 1.4% for Year 12 and 10.5% for Year 13. This was a small increase in comparison to the previous tear for Y13, but years 11 and 12 saw decreases in this figure compared to school leavers the year before.

Going straight into work continued to be a more popular choice among males than females, following the pattern of previous year’s data.

Looking at the number of pupils who became NEET, there were 3.5% of individuals in the Year 13 cohort of 2020 in this area, compared to 2.5% back in 2019. In contrast, numbers decreased in 2020 for years 11 and 12, with 1.7% and 0.6% of individuals from the two year-groups becoming NEET in 2020, a respective change of -0.1% and -0.2% in 2019.

There was also a 0.5% jump in the amount of these young people becoming NEET due to illness, caring for others or pregnancy, at 1.4% compared to 0.5% in 2019. There was either no or minimal change to this figure for years 11 and 12.

Another more significant change seen from the data in 2020, was that the percentage of no responses for Year 13 fell significantly to 4.2% from 9.6% in 2019.

Philip Bowden, Head of Quality and Planning at Careers Wales, said: “The Destinations survey helps to provide our careers advisers with an up-to-date representation of what young people are choosing to do, so that our guidance and coaching service is current, inclusive and relevant to the future workforce of Wales. The survey also provides valuable information to our partners and stakeholders.

“Data shows that the effects of the first Covid-19 wave have perhaps affected the routes taken by young people after school less than we may have expected.

“We’re especially pleased to see that there were no significant increases in the percentage of school leavers known to be NEET in Wales in 2020.

“It’s also very interesting to see that NEET figures dropped in Year 11 and 12, with more young people choosing to stay in an educational environment for longer until they get to 18.”

Chief Executive of Careers Wales, Nikki Lawrence, said: “It’s safe to say that 2020 has been a tremendously difficult year for young people in Wales, particularly those who have needed to make important decisions about their futures.

“The data shows a level of resilience amongst young people, who have continued to make informed choices about their futures, even during unprecedented times and within a constantly changing educational environment.

“School leavers this year will be anticipating their centre determined grades in June after a year of uncertainty and change due the effects of the pandemic.

“I’d like to reassure pupils in Wales who might be worried about their grades or what they’re going to do next, that our advisers are here to help.”

If you’re currently in school or college and would like to explore your interests and opportunities with a careers adviser, please speak to a member of staff who can advise on how to book an appointment.

You or your parent, guardian or carer can also call us free on 0800 028 4844, email post@careerswales.gov.wales or get in touch through live chat.

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