Access to education and training for young adult carers

For most young adults, the age span of 16–25 is the pivotal period during which they make the transition to adulthood. A fundamental factor of this transition phase is the acquisition of skills, qualifications, experiences and relationships – a gradual shift away from dependence to independence.

However, existing literature and the findings of this research project provide clear evidence that:

  • as a result of their caring responsibilities, many young adult carers do not make linear transitions, are not afforded the opportunities taken for granted by their peers, and therefore become isolated, disaffected, and marginalised;
  • many young adult carers and their families live in poverty, and young adult carers experience significant problems and high levels of disadvantage as a consequence of their caring responsibilities which have a direct impact upon their motivation, opportunity and ability to engage in effective learning;
  • young adult carers, many of whom are not engaged in learning and training, have few or no means of meaningful interaction or engagement outside of the family home;
  • negative experiences of learning, such as bullying and lack of understanding by peers and professionals, mean that many young adult carers become deeply marginalised and ‘turned off’ learning at a young age; and
  • a significant proportion of young adult carers have low aspirations, fail to achieve their potential and leave education with few or no qualifications.
Project details



Nicola Aylward, Project Officer at NIACE

Grant amount and duration

15 April 2008 - 14 January 2009



Policy briefing paper: Access to education and training for young adult carers

Download briefing paper (PDF)