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NEVERSAYNO Conference Abstract

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patrick shearer
9 January 2019

Never Ever Say No. 

‘College Clearing House Inclusion Project’


Patrick Shearer

West College Scotland



Abstract: The Scottish Government Social Inclusion strategy aims to create a more successful country by increasing sustainable economic growth. It regards young people as key to future economic success and made commitments to them in their Opportunities for All strategy by pledging to: ‘offer a place in learning or training to every 16-19 year old who is not currently in employment, education or training’ (Scottish Government, 2016). West College Scotland (WCS) has been tasked with supporting this strategy by supporting efforts to eradicate one particular problem area, that of young people who are defined as NEET. (Regional Outcome Agreement, 2017). The topic is of particular personal interest because I am a programme leader at WCS.


The acronym NEET was first used at the turn of the 21st Century to categorise young people between the ages of 16-24 who were Not in Education, Employment or Training (Furlong, 2006). The Government reported that: “being ‘inactive’ at this age was often leading to “a descent into the hardest end of the social exclusion spectrum – bringing with it a variety of relationship, family and health problems, including homelessness, persistent offending or problem drug use.” (Department of Communities and Local Government, 2008).



Instead of making a positive contribution to reductions in NEET figures, it has recently become apparent that recruitment processes at WCS may, inadvertently, be having a negative influence on them. Most of the Faculties use interviews to recruit, leading to hundreds of ‘Unsuccessful after interview’ rejection statements being sent to candidates.  Alarmingly the vast majority of these ‘unsuccessfuls’ fall into the NEET category. As well as this, these rejected applicants are not being referred to other youth support agencies, and perhaps worse still, not even referred to other potentially suitable programmes within the College itself.  But perhaps most concerning of all is the fact that, the College is presently failing to meet its overall recruitment targets.


The question is now being asked: What specifically happens to applicants who are being rejected? (Education Scotland, 2018).  The problem seems to be that there is no strategic networking taking place between departments and between external agencies. Some programme leaders regard the interview outcome as their final responsibility in the applicant experience (Education Scotland, 2018). If an applicant was applying to Higher Education and was unsuccessful they would at least have an option of a place via clearing systems (UCAS, 2018). The aim is, therefore, to develop a College Clearing House System that would forever eradicate negative rejection outcomes.  This will, in turn, provide an inclusive service to young people by providing them with additional and enhanced options and opportunities, as well as supporting overall efforts to reduce NEET figures in the region.


With this in mind, the Conference presentation will focus on the application process, application form itself, and discuss the potential use of social networking as interview follow  up. The presentation will also include suggestions for designing an applicant Clearing House.

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