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An overview of the three main sources of statistics on young people who are not in education, employment or training in Wales.

First published:
30 July 2020
Last updated:

The three main sources are:

  • statistical first release (SFR) series
  • Annual Population Survey (APS) series
  • pupil destinations from schools in Wales

We publish both the SFR and APS series. Careers Wales publish pupil destinations from schools in Wales annually.

Users are encouraged to refer to the SFR series for the most robust estimates of young people who are NEET in the 16 to 18 and 19 to 24 age groups. Uses of the APS and pupil destinations series, along with how they differ from the SFR series, are described in this guide.

Statistical first release (SFR) series

This series is the definitive statistical source for estimates of the number and proportion of young people who are NEET in Wales. It is published annually in the statistical first release ‘Participation of young people in education and the labour market’.

The SFR series provides policy makers and those working with young people with data to monitor trends and the impact of education and labour market interventions on young people. The data presented covers 16 to 18 year olds and 19 to 24 year olds on an academic age basis (age as at 31 August prior to the start of the academic year). Estimates can also be broken down by gender.

The estimates published in the SFR are a measure of the proportion of young people who are NEET as at the end of the calendar year. They are derived by combining a range of primary sources:

  • education enrolments counts for:
    • schools from the Pupil Level Annual School Census (Welsh Government)
    • further education and work based learning from the Lifelong Learning Wales Record (Welsh Government)
    • higher education from the Higher Education Statistics Agency and the Open University
  • population estimates as at the end of the calendar year (Office for National Statistics and Welsh Government)
  • Annual Population Survey, which is used to estimate the proportion of those not in education or training who are unemployed or inactive and relates to the whole of the reference year

Due to the use of survey data within the calculations there will be some element of sampling variability in the estimates. As a result, changes in trends need to be interpreted with some caution as changes could be attributed to sampling effects as well as real effects. Currently it is not possible to distinguish between these impacts. Estimates for the latest year are always provisional. They use the best estimate currently available for each aspect of participation. This includes some final data, some provisional data and some modelling. Estimates for previous years take into account final data, which was not available at the time of the provisional figures.

These estimates are only available annually and can only be disaggregated by gender, so it is necessary to supplement them with other sources of NEET statistics.

Annual Population Survey (APS) series

This series is a rolling year annual estimate of the proportion of young people who are NEET from the APS. The APS is a continuous household survey. It is able to provide information on important social and socio-economic variables at local levels.

The APS estimates, published quarterly, provide more timely data than the annual SFR series. They are used to provide an indication of trends in the proportion of young people who are NEET between SFRs. They are not directly comparable with the SFR series. As they are based on survey data, the estimates are less robust due to the variability caused by sampling error.

APS estimates can be used to provide further breakdowns (for example by region or individual characteristics). It is necessary to use estimates based on 3 year averages for these purposes, due to small sample sizes.

Given the structure of the APS there is a large overlap between consecutive rolling years. Changes between consecutive rolling year estimates should not be used. Comparisons are made with the same point a year previous.

The harmonised definition used for the APS estimates means that comparisons with other UK countries and English regions are possible. However, there are differences of approach in the publication of these estimates. An example of this is the use of data from the Labour Force Survey in estimates published elsewhere. Furthermore there may be differences in age groups, the use of academic age versus actual age and differences in the adjustment methodology used to apportion missing values. Users should also consider the impact of different education systems across the UK. As such, these comparisons should be made with caution.

Pupil destinations from schools in Wales

Careers Wales undertakes an annual survey of all leavers from maintained schools in Wales. This survey captures the destinations of these leavers as at end of October. Data from the survey is used to calculate the proportion of leavers from year 11 (aged 16) who are NEET at that point. The survey includes pupils from maintained schools in Wales. Those attending further education colleges and independent schools are not included. This series is not directly comparable with the SFR series or the APS series due to differences in definitions.

This is the only source that provides estimates at a local authority level. Neither the SFR nor the APS series provide estimates at local authority level. This is due to the methodology used to derive the SFR estimates and small sample sizes in the APS.

In previous years, it has been possible to track destination data and identify trends. There was a large increase in the number of non-respondents in the 2018 destinations data, due to a number of data collection challenges, which affected comparability with previous years. Some non-response issues remained in the 2019 data. The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic also complicated the comparability across years from 2020.

No comparisons can be made across local authorities due to variation in the non-response rate.

The collection of data in close co-operation with partners in the education and work-based learning sectors and Careers Wales work supporting those who are known to be ‘Not in Education, Employment or Training’ (NEET) means that those members of the Destinations cohort most likely to be non-responders are those from the ‘Employed – other’, and ‘Left the area’ categories.