For the past year, NYA has been supported by the Money Advice Service’s What Works Fund to improve the financial capability of 16-21 year olds engaged in or preparing for an apprenticeship. We have been testing a peer education approach, exploring what difference it makes if young people themselves are the trainers. Our aim is to help young people make good decisions about money and to increase their chances of staying on and completing a traineeship or apprenticeship.
Using materials co-created with young people, the trainers help them understand concepts like tax and national insurance as well as the risks around store cards, payday loans, mobile phone contracts and online payments. The national minimum wage for young people on apprenticeships creates budgeting challenges and this is also a focus of the training.
What we have learned from the programme so far…
-There is evidence that young people respond well to sessions delivered by their peers. Participants refer to the empathy and a style of engagement that other young people bring as trainers, making discussion and questions informal and relaxed.
-In training sessions it is important to include time for conversation, questions and debate about how young people spend money and what they would do if they had more of it. Discussions about money often become discussions about plans for the future and challenges in their lives.
-Young people need at least as much time to talk about their money behaviour as they do learning facts about financial products and services. Doing the former is not easy and requires sessional leaders who are comfortable working with groups of young people.
-Young people on pre-apprenticeship and traineeship programmes often need additional support to become ready for work and may not have positive memories of a classroom setting. My Money Now has focused on these young people and the training programme is tailored to their needs.
-Our original plan was to deliver the programme to young people in the early stages of their apprenticeship. However we found it very difficult to engage directly with employers even though there is evidence that they recognise the value of financial support for their employees. A recent study found that over half worry about their employees’ financial health, and that 90 per cent of employers agree that financial concerns have an impact on employees’ work performance. Our experience was that many were concerned about the amount of time the training would take or that it would be too difficult to fit in to a packed timetable. If financial capability support for apprenticeships is to become universal it needs to be included as a part of the apprenticeship training standards.
Voices of young people
My Money Now is a peer education training model. NYA wants to support more young people to come forward and give their views on financial capability and what works for them. In our final programme report we want to provide a platform for these views. Here are the thoughts of some of the young people who took part in the programme.
Katie, engineering apprentice, Midland Training Group
I thought the training would be pretty boring to be honest. I was just thinking about how school used to be and I expected it to be like that. Also talking money doesn’t really sound exciting but it was a lot different than I imagined. It was really different and I learned a lot because of the way it was delivered.
I learned a lot because it was engaging and everyone was involved. We did a case study exercise where we got given a card with a person on and their wage each month and their current savings and we had to then decide on how they spent their money that month – it was a great way to get us thinking about our own situations and it was really realistic to things that matter to us.
I also thought the activities around fraud awareness were helpful – it was something I had not really thought about and had not expected it to be covered so it was good.
IT has given me tools that I can use now for managing money. Looking at the different ways you can budget, especially the apps was really good.
Holly, business and administration apprentice (Buckinghamshire county council).
The training was delivered on our level. Sometimes trainers speak to you as if you were a child… It was useful to learn different ways to save and cutback. I felt like the practical things like how to read a payslip were not relevant to me as I have been working since I was 16 but it was good to know the things I thought I knew I did. I really liked the idea of incentivising the training too.
Ben, engineering apprentice, Midland Training Group
It was eye opening! I loved that young people delivered it. It felt like they have been through the same experiences as us and dealing with same money issues because they are from the same generation. They were more relatable and it made the activities more interesting. It was fun! I enjoyed the different activities that allowed us to get involved in different ways. Things like the Stanley money competition was a great way to get people engaged. I also was surprised about covering Fraud awareness, I found it really interested and I think it is needed for our age because it is important to be careful.
We need to provide the right support for young people as they enter the workplace – it is a powerful teachable moment when earning money for the first time is real and making good decisions about income is critical.
NYA wants to see more pioneering employers embed money skills training setting an example to other employers across the country.