Real Impact: Helping young people stay in employment, education and training

Thousands of young people living in one of the most deprived areas of France are set to benefit from efforts to improve youth outreach activities. Elise Leclerc, Director of the Social Impact Measurement and Evaluation Lab at ESSEC Business School, shares a newly developed tool to measure and improve the success of charities supporting at-risk youth.

Thousands of young people living in one of the most deprived areas of France are set to benefit from efforts to improve youth outreach activities. Elise Leclerc, Director of the Social Impact Measurement and Evaluation Lab and Thierry Sibieude, Chaired Professor, the Social Enterprise & Innovation Chair at ESSEC Business School, share a newly developed tool to measure and improve the success of charities supporting at-risk youth.

Val-d’Oise, a department in north central France, has one of the highest poverty rates in the country, affecting around 17% of the population. The young are some of the worst impacted, with more than 5,000 11 to 25-year-olds identified annually as not in employment, education or training (NEET), or at risk of NEET. With the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020 and the subsequent domino effect of economic slowdown on employment opportunities through to 2021, the challenges facing young people are at an all-time high.

There are typically eight challenges that the at-risk group of NEET must overcome in order to stay in or go back to education. Challenges cover social skills and behaviour, educational and/or professional skills, relating to others, physical and mental health, emotional wellbeing, behaviour in relation to the justice system, economic situation, and autonomy/proactivity.

The Val d’Oise local authority annually commits €8m to carry out youth outreach activities. However, this funding isn’t guaranteed, and local authorities have been under increasing pressure from elected members who want budget renewals to be based on evidence of impact. 

| Food for thought

What, for you, is a root cause of youth unemployment and precariousness in your country? Does it reflect a larger societal, institutional or even global issue?

Measuring the impact of youth programmes

In the Val-d’Oise, youth outreach activities are carried out by eight charities who report to local authorities on the outcomes of their programmes. Following concerns that reports were not capturing sufficient evidence of impact, the local authority turned to ESSEC Business School for help.

Thousands of young people living in one of the most deprived areas of France are set to benefit from efforts to improve youth outreach activities. Elise Leclerc, Director of the Social Impact Measurement and Evaluation Lab at ESSEC Business School, shares a newly developed tool to measure and improve the success of charities supporting at-risk youth.

ESSEC researchers took on the challenge and have worked with youth and youth outreach organisations to create a quantitative impact assessment tool that can be used to compliment the qualitative data collected through testimonies. The idea is that data is taken from youth at the point of entry to a programme and then their progress is monitored over time, thereby showing the change in their situation thanks to the support they receive.

The tool has been designed to support the full range of stakeholders, including local authorities, charity managers, youth workers and young people themselves. It is also versatile enough to be applied to any youth outreach charity in the country and potentially abroad.

A tool with far-reaching benefits

Equipped with this tool, charities will be able to better understand and demonstrate the impact of their organisation on young people’s lives, as well as improve their outreach services. Meanwhile, disadvantaged youths will benefit from enhanced outreach provision.

For youth workers, the tool will allow them to better understand and communicate how their work impacts the young people they are supporting, giving them additional motivation and evidence of personal performance.

| Food for thought

What, for you, are three things that must happen in order for youth to pull themselves out of the poverty trap? What three things should government-business-society do to facilitate things for the young?

Crucially, this social assessment tool will also enable authorities to evaluate the success of a programme as scientifically as possible bearing in mind the complexity of social impact, as well as identify and address issues that affect specific groups in certain areas. This will ultimately lead to more informed funding and decision making.

In the next phase of the project, the tool will be tested more widely with an end goal of encouraging its adoption across the country and potentially even further. Once embedded, data produced could be used to influence the development of more targeted regional and national policies for those in disadvantaged communities.

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The Council on Business & Society (The CoBS), visionary in its conception and purpose, was created in 2011, and is dedicated to promoting responsible leadership and tackling issues at the crossroads of business and society including sustainability, diversity, ethical leadership and the place responsible business has to play in contributing to the common good.  

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