Friday Five: mental health and work, early years literacy, apprenticeships, early childhood inequities, pensions and childcare


1st March 2024

New Resolution Foundation report explores the relationship between mental health and work outcomes for young people

The Resolution Foundation has published new research looking at the impact of mental ill-health on young people’s post-school working lives. The three-year project, funded by the Health Foundation, forms part of a wider project on young people’s futures. Key findings include:

  •  Young people with mental health problems are more likely to be unemployed than their peers
  • The percentage of students with a mental health disorder is rising faster than that of working young people
  •  One third of young non-graduates with a mental health disorder are unemployed, compared to one fifth of young non-graduates without a mental health disorder
  • 34 percent of young people reported symptoms that indicate a mental health disorder

Exploring how mental health outcomes can be improved across the education and youth sectors is a priority for us at CfEY. Our recent work with Minds Ahead examined the current landscape for mental health-related training and development for school-based staff and explored how it can be improved.

The full report is available here; more information on our work with Minds Ahead is here.

New research by National Literacy Trust tackles early years literacy challenges

In 2023, 185,000 five year olds started school with literacy skills below the expected standard, new research by the National Literacy Trust and Pro Bono Economics has found. The research identified 106,000 five year olds in England in a single year group who did not meet the expected standards of literacy but could have done with the right support. The research also found that insufficient literacy support for this group of five year olds will generate economic costs of around £830 million over the course of their lifetimes.

These findings echo previous work we’ve carried out at CfEY with Oxford University Press. To tackle literacy challenges in school, our report called for greater curriculum consistency, more space in the curriculum for literacy, and more training for teachers.

The full report is here; our work with OUP is here.

Minister Robert Halfon lays out his vision for apprenticeships

At the Annual Apprenticeship Conference in Birmingham, Minister Robert Halfon emphasised the importance of apprenticeships in advancing social justice and providing opportunities for individuals of all backgrounds. Halfon outlined three main apprenticeship goals: building an ‘Apprenticeships Nation’, prioritising quality over quantity, and ensuring apprenticeships serve social justice. He discussed the government’s efforts to integrate apprenticeships into various career pathways, the impact of the Apprenticeship Levy in financing quality training, and the expansion of degree apprenticeships. He also highlighted the importance of enhancing careers education to promote awareness of apprenticeship opportunities.

Further Education is a topic we’ve been working on recently. With Policy Connect, our recent report outlines ways to improve the uptake and engagement with Higher Technical Qualifications (HTQs). 

Read the entire press release here

Nesta report on narrowing the early childhood gap 

This paper by Nesta set out the changes in policy and delivery that they believe would create an ideal system for early childhood in England, to narrow the gap in outcomes at school entry between children in low-income families and their better-off peers. The authors advocate for high-quality, teacher-led early childhood education starting from the age of two. The recommendations made in the report include improving qualification requirements and enhancing pay and conditions for early childhood educators. The authors also recommend an invigorated model of neighbourhood support for families, ‘children’s campuses’, which are centres that could cater to families with young children and provide family support services and high-quality early education. The authors also argue for the need to increase family leave around the birth of a baby from nine months to a year, and the removal of the two-child limit on Universal Credit support.

Read the entire report here

Gender pensions gap exacerbated by a lack of childcare options, The Times reports

The gender pensions gap – the average difference between men’s and women’s pension income – is exacerbated by a lack of childcare options, The Times report this week. The average woman has £69,0000 in pension savings by the age of 67, while the average man has £205,000. Women are more likely to take time off work, or to take low-paying, part-time employment to raise children or to fit around other caring responsibilities, helping to account for this difference in pensions earnings.

The full article is here.

That’s all for this week! If you found this blog useful, please be sure to share/tweet it and follow @theCfEY, @Barristotle, and @conorcarleton for future editions.