For the last 30 years Tomorrow’s People has been supporting people from disadvantaged communities to get and keep a job, but we have a special concern for young people on the margins who have failed to make a successful transition from school. Since 2004, we’ve focused our support for young people on those 16-24 year olds who are not in employment, education, or training and who other agencies have found hard to reach.

Until last year, our youth programmes were funded only by private donations and those funders have always expected to see tangible results and clear impact measurement to justify their investment. However, as anyone working with disadvantaged young people will know, it is very difficult to understand and evaluate the progress that participants make on a range of hard and soft levels and to keep track of them once they ‘graduate’, so that impact and sustainability can be measured.

It is critical for all organisations working with NEETs to be clear about what success is and to articulate it in a way that has currency for investors so that progress can be evaluated fairly and value proven. Unfortunately, the wide range of third sector organisations currently working with young people are doing so without common standards of measurement and evaluation, which make it very difficult for potential investors to judge where they are best to focus their resources.But it is crucial that we have a credible story to tell investors about impact as it is a key indicator of the success of our approach, and the ability to record hard as well as soft data is as important for programme development as it for investment analysis. As a result, we make a great deal of effort to engage with participants for a year after a programme finishes, both to offer support and to measure outcomes.

That’s why Tomorrow’s People was delighted to be invited to join the NPC pilot and to take part, with other like-minded organisations, in a forum to look at the practical steps we can take to build a common standard of assessment. However, there is still much to do, both to convince the sector that it is possible to build a common language across a range of activities and specialisms, and then to convince commissioners and funders that what is being measured is important and of value.

Charities working with young people can and should be collaborating and having an open discussion on how to create universal standards and measure the soft outcomes – like confidence, self-esteem, motivation and happiness – that are often considered immeasurable, but which we all know are vital for development and progress.

Read more about the shared measurement pilot in which Tomorrow’s People took part in Impact measurement in the NEETs sector, published today and available to download for free from NPC’s website.

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