Youthreach helping early school leavers to thrive

Youthreach helping early school leavers to thrive


A report into the effectiveness of the Youthreach programme has been published, which shows that the programme has significant benefits for young people who leave school early.

Youthreach helps early school-leavers to gain employment through training, education and work experience. While there has been a steady decline in the number of early school-leavers over the past decade, those young people who do leave school early require more specialist support than in the past and are in greater danger of marginalisation, without the programme’s intervention.

The Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) conducted an independent evaluation of the Youthreach programme in late 2018 which has been published today by SOLAS, the Further Education and Training Authority, along with its report and recommendations in response to the evaluation.

The evaluation and report were launched by the Minister for Education and Skills Joe McHugh T.D., at an event in the trendy surroundings of Talent Garden, Dublin.

A panel discussion on Youthreach took place as part of the launch event, with contributions from:

  • Minister McHugh;
  • Ian Power, CEO of;
  • Liane McCarthy, Youthreach participant;
  • Andrew Brownlee, Executive Director of SOLAS; and
  • Shane McElroy, Coordinator of Galway City Youthreach.


Key Findings
Key findings from the ESRI evaluation of the Youthreach programme include:

  • There has been an overall decline in demand for Youthreach from 2015 to 2017, as the economy has continued to improve and the long-term trend of decline in early school-leaving has continued.
  • At the same time there has been an increase in the number of severely marginalised young people requiring support from Youthreach, including Irish Travellers and young people from migrant backgrounds.
  • There has also been an increase in the number of young people with mental health issues participating in Youthreach programmes.
  • Amongst the general population of early school-leavers, only 10 per cent entered education or training courses between 2010 and 2017. Of those who participated in Youthreach, however, 45 per cent went on to further education and training courses.
  • Approximately 69 per cent of Youthreach learners complete the programme. Of those who complete the programme, approximately 60 per cent receive certification.

Speaking at the event, Andrew Brownlee, Executive Director at SOLAS said: “There is an overall decline in the demand for Youthreach, due to current labour market conditions and the continuing and welcoming trend whereby the vast majority of young people choose to finish their formal second-level education. However, it is clear that Youthreach is working for those who need it, and that there remains a strong need and rationale for the programme, particularly amongst the marginalised.

“Over a decade ago, if someone left school early it was seen as a huge obstacle to gaining employment. Nowadays, while there are fewer people leaving school early, those who do leave tend to have additional obstacles facing them as well. We are seeing an increase in young people who have left school early who have also experienced childhood trauma, substance abuse issues and involvement in anti-social behaviour or crime. Youthreach has a hugely important role to play in supporting young people to continue with education, as well as providing the additional social supports they need.”

Youthreach is co-funded by the Irish Government, the European Social Fund and the Youth Employment Initiative as part of the ESF Programme for Employability Inclusion and Learning 2014-2020.

The report can be downloaded from SOLAS at this link.