Youth Cohort Study work programme 1997-1999

Funded by: Department for Education and Employment


May 2001 to May 2002

PSI researchers:

Background, summary and aims


This project is a feasibility study, the purpose of which is to recommend to the DfEE the best methodology to measure:

  • the net impact of Modern Apprenticeships (MA) on the employment chances and earnings of young people;
  • the benefits of the MA system for the wider economy;
  • sectoral variations in the effectiveness of MA.

The report will make different recommendations for the different timeframes within which evaluation results might be needed, which vary from getting results within six months to having no time constraints at all. It will also consider the extent to which existing data sources might be exploited, and the possible need for a new data collection exercise.

Study Design

The project is a collaborative endeavour between organisations with complementary expertise. It involves, in addition to PSI, the National Institute of Economic and Social Research and BMRB International, two consultants of international standing in evaluation methodology, and policy experts from the DfEE. Following an initial meeting to discuss methodological problems, each collaborator will examine a specific set of issues in depth, and a second meeting will then be held to agree on the recommended methodologies. A workshop will be held to present these recommendations to a wider audience of policy experts and academics, and the final recommendations to the DfEE will take into account points made in the discussion.


The MA system has grown rapidly since its launch in 1995 and is planned to replace all other forms of work-based training for young people that receive government support. It offers the main alternative to full-time education as a means of gaining vocational qualifications. The study reflects the current emphasis within government on evidence-based policy making, and is part of a wider DfEE research programme that aims to measure precisely and rigorously the outcomes from programmes designed to improve the supply of labour. Of key importance here is the concept of the programme's net impact or additionality.