Evaluation of the National Youthreach Programme

The National Youthreach Programme provides second-chance education and training to early school leavers in Ireland. Originally launched in 1988, the programme is the Government’s principal response to early school leaving by providing young, unemployed, early school leavers with an opportunity to progress their education and training and acquire certification in a non-threatening ‘out-of-school’ setting such as Youthreach Centres and Community Training Centres. The programme is now a crucial part of the Irish education and training continuum and a fundamental element in the Government’s response to early school leaving and educational disadvantage. This new research project, commissioned by SOLAS, The Further Education and Training Authority, will provide the first ever evaluation of the National Youthreach Programme (including Youthreach Centres and Community Training Centres). The study will be carried out in the context of the dissolution of the Vocational Education Committees (VECs) and FÁS and the transfer of the Youthreach programme to the Education and Training Board (ETB) sector. Based on a robust mixed-methods analysis of Youthreach participants, instructors, coordinators and managers/stakeholders, we examine the experiences and outcomes of Youthreach participants focussing on the extent to which the programme facilitates young people to return to learning and prepare them for employment and adult life. The findings will generate policy-relevant knowledge concerning the outputs and outcomes of the Youthreach programme and the effectiveness of this type of provision.