A photo of students sitting at desks and writing.

In collaboration with Swansea University, a new study published today by Public Health Wales evidences the negative impact that caring responsibilities have on educational participation in those aged 16-22, and how this has the greatest impact on those living in the most deprived areas.

The research brings together National Survey for Wales data over three years and found that:

  • 1 in 5 young people aged 16 – 22 years in Wales have caring responsibilities;
  • Males and females in this age group are equally likely to be young carers;
  • Overall, the proportion of young people in full-time education is lower amongst young carers (45 per cent in carers, compared to 54 per cent in non-carers), and this difference is greater in those living in more deprived areas.

A novel finding in this study is the new evidence to suggest that this difference is largely in the older age groups (19 to 22 years), where the proportion in full-time tertiary education is 10 per cent less amongst carers. The lowest participation is among those with caring responsibilities living in the most deprived areas, where only 19 per cent remain in full-time tertiary education.

Alisha Davies, Head of Research and Development at Public Health Wales, said: “This study provides valuable quantitative evidence on the negative impact of caring responsibilities on young people’s participation in education, and how this is greater amongst those living in more deprived areas. Interestingly, one of the greatest differences was amongst those aged 19-22 years, irrespective of underlying levels of deprivation, highlighting the need to support young people across educational sectors.

Education is key to young people’s future success and life chances. Approaches such as identifying young carers, enabling early support where needed, and providing more support in educational settings, have the potential to enable young people to stay and thrive in education, while still meeting their caring responsibilities.”

Fangzhou Huang, Senior Lecturer at Swansea University, said: “In other studies, young carers reflected that their educational choices were restricted by caring responsibilities. This evidence demonstrated a significantly reduced participation in tertiary education for young carers. Educational settings, in partnerships across sectors, should provide social and academic support to accommodate young carers’ needs and raise their educational aspirations to fulfil their potential in education.”

Kate Cubbage, Head of External Affairs, Carers Trust Wales: “We strongly welcome today’s publication which makes a useful contribution to our understanding of the interrelation between young carers, poverty and education.

Insights within this infographic help address some key knowledge gaps in our understanding of the educational engagement of young carers. The infographic provides strong evidence that more can and should be done to ensure that all young carers get the right support to enable them to participate in education.

Carers Trust Wales and our Network Partners have long-described the link between caring and not being in education, employment and training. We hope that this timely evidence will help to shape education-focused actions for young carers within the soon to be published Welsh Government’s Carers Strategy Delivery Plan.”

Closing the educational engagement gap for young carers’ is a joint study between Public Health Wales and Swansea University, funded by Public Health Wales.

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