Blackpool Opportunity Area Evaluation of Strand 1: Final Report for Blackpool Council

Kaehne, Axel, Robinson, Carol, Stuart, Kaz ORCID logo ORCID: , Grimwood, Tom ORCID logo ORCID: , Simcock, Tom and Roberts, Louise (2022) Blackpool Opportunity Area Evaluation of Strand 1: Final Report for Blackpool Council. Blackpool Opportunity Area Programme. (Unpublished)

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The Blackpool Opportunity Area programme aims to improve the experience, engagement and employment outcomes of young people transitioning from compulsory education into Post 16 education, employment or training (EET). The Blackpool Opportunity Area Programme and Lancashire Careers Hub worked together to deliver with key stakeholders (schools, colleges, employers), the Blackpool Careers Journey – an offer of interventions for all children and young people to help them prepare for work.

The Opportunity Area Programme investment has been used to minimise gaps and add value to the existing offer under the Blackpool Careers Journey. The investment has two elements: 1. Meaningful Employer Encounters 2. Digital Careers Journey

A team from Edge Hill University, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Cumbria, were commissioned to evaluate this part of the Opportunity Area Programme. For purposes of convenience this part was called the Blackpool Opportunity Area programme Strand 1. Strand 2 of this programme was evaluated by the same team previously.

The overarching objectives of the present evaluation were to:
1) Measure the impact of the programme, identifying best practice within each distinct project, guided by the questions: how does the programme work, for whom and under which circumstances?
2) Assess the strengths and weaknesses, and the enablers and barriers, to support the effective implementation of the programme as a whole, as well as for each of the two projects
3) Identify the wider benefits of the programme for Blackpool

To achieve the objectives of this evaluation, a mixed-methods approach was undertaken.

In summary, the following methods were incorporated into the evaluation:
1) Evaluability assessment, including a review of available data and scoping interviews
2) Semi-structured interviews with project stakeholders
3) A series of focus groups with young people
4) A review of aggregated routinely collected project data

Our analysis showed that employer encounters were valued by school staff, career leads and young people. We also obtained evidence that the programme coped extraordinarily well with COVID restrictions, delivering a range of events, and reaching a significant number of pupils across several Blackpool schools. However, findings suggest that it would be beneficial to conduct a more in-depth assessment of the potentially differential benefits that employer encounters may have on young people in general, as well as on those at risk of NEET.

Item Type: Report
Publisher: Blackpool Opportunity Area Programme
Departments: Institute of Health > Social Work, Children and Families
Institute of Health > Psychology and Psychological Therapies
Centre for Research in Health and Society (CRIHS)
Depositing User: Insight Administrator
Date Deposited: 07 Jul 2022 10:50
Last Modified: 13 Jan 2024 13:17


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