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£2.2m grant for new education and careers research project

A new research project focusing on school to work transitions of young people who don’t go to university has been awarded a £2.2 million grant by the Economic and Social Research Council.

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A new research project focusing on school to work transitions of young people who don’t go to university has been awarded a £2.2 million grant by the Economic and Social Research Council.

Over the next five years, a research team from the School of Education, Communication and Society at King’s, and the Edge Foundation, will investigate how England's vocational education and training (VET) system can better support the school-to-work transitions of the 50% of young people who do not go to university.

Routes into further education, training and employment for these young people are often characterised by complexity, instability, uncertain prospects and drop-out, and around 13% of 18-24 year olds are not in any form of education, employment or training.

Principal investigator Professor Sharon Gewirtz said of the project:

“We will focus on the 16-20 age group and have a particular emphasis on engaging with the perspectives of young people themselves, including those who are marginalised and whose input is often not heard in policymaking. These young people are more likely to fall between gaps in the system and not be in education, employment or training, which is associated with a range of negative outcomes and lifetime costs.”

The research will compare the opportunities for young people living in different places and the resources they are able to draw on to help them make and exercise meaningful career and employment choices. It will explore young people's values, how differently resourced young people experience their transitions and the implications for equality, policy and professional practice.

Pressing national policy priorities will be addressed through the project as England is currently engaged in fundamental reforms to its VET system. These have been fuelled by linked concerns about equality and productivity, in particular the disparities in education and skill levels that can prevent those from disadvantaged regions, those categorised as black or minority ethnic, as well as women and disabled people from accessing high-skill employment.

This project will provide new understandings of how these disparities are produced and how they might be reduced. In doing so it will generate insights of critical relevance to the government's equality and productivity agendas.

Project team            

Professor Sharon Gewirtz (PI), Professor Chris Winch, Professor Meg Maguire and Dr Sait Bayrakdar (School of Education, Communication and Society, King’s College London); Professor Alison Wolf (King’s Business School); Mr Olly Newton and Dr Andrea Laczik (Edge Foundation).

We will focus on the 16-20 age group and have a particular emphasis on engaging with the perspectives of young people themselves, including those who are marginalised and whose input is often not heard in policymaking.– Professor Sharon Gewirtz