Recently, I have begun to have a serious think about education. This is because I am increasingly aware that in the future, education is going to be even more important to vocational success than it already is. A great report was released recently from the Foundation for Young Australians called The New Work Order. It had some really interesting statistics in it about the future of work and the way in which the rise of automation is going to affect employment. This impact will be particularly so for young people as many of the entry level jobs that they use to get a foothold in the workforce will potentially cease to exist. When thinking about young people who are also experiencing mental ill-health it seems that a focus on supporting the completion of education and training is only going to get more important. And yet the evidence for what we might do to support young people with mental ill health to complete their educations is lacking.
iFEVR has always been about education. In a sense it differed from traditional IPS interventions or supported employment because there was always a recognition that employment was only part of the picture and that education and training were equally important for young people. I think that there are a few key challenges ahead for IPS and education. The first comes from a review by Gary Bond and co which shows that while IPS for young people is better in terms of employment outcomes, there has not been a clear benefit when it comes to education. One question that arises is would IPS adapted solely to educational outcomes perform better? There is some evidence that it would, but it is preliminary and in need of trial in larger more rigorous studies. The second challenge is if there are trials in which we measure educational outcomes – what do we measure? Time to commencement of course might be affected by time of year and limited annual intakes. Number of hours may not reflect the commitment to the course. Some courses are full time with only 10 contact hours a week. Others are full time with 30 contact hours a week. There is a need to come up with some common metrics. I am hoping that education can be a focus of our meeting in Milan in 2016, but in the meantime perhaps discussion can commence here.