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Last updated 18th April 2024


Currently, I am Professor of Education at the University of Huddersfield, where I have been since 2004. My research focuses on a number of related themes including education policy, the history of education, and the sociology of education. I am, however, perhaps best known for my research into youth unemployment and the lives of marginalized young people, especially those categorised as NEET (not in education, employment or training) or vulnerable to becoming NEET. From 2019-2022 I worked with colleagues from Hungary, Italy, Portugal, Ireland, Romania and the UK on the Erasmus+ funded project Improving Transitions, Enabling Results which is focused on improving vocational learning for NEET young people. Currently, I am a member of the European Advisory Board for CLEAR - a major European-funded project, led by the University of Muenster, investigating the construction of learning outcomes for disadvantaged groups in eight European countries (Austria, Bulgaria, Finland, Germany, Greece, Italy, Portugal and Spain).    

I am co-author of two books on marginalised youth: NEET Young People and Training for Work published by Trentham and Education, Work and Social Change published by Palgrave. I have also written numerous reports, commentaries and research papers of the lives of NEET young people. In 2018, I co-edited Education and Working-Class Youth with John Smyth, from Federation University, Australia and, my latest book, on education and work in Britain's former coalmining communities was published in October 2022. 

I have been involved in a range  of significant research projects, including work funded by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, the Raymond Williams Foundation, the Leverhulme Trust and the Society for Educational Studies. Methodologically, I am interested in using critical policy analysis, ethnography and other qualitative methods to examine the lived experience of learners, teachers and other practitioners, particularly those working with young people on the margins of education and employment.   

I have worked with voluntary groups, trade unions, think tanks and organisations such as Unicef and the EU on questions of education and training for young people. I am an experienced media commentator on questions of youth employment, education and the economy, and have taken part in a number of television and radio debates on such matters, including programmes broadcast on BBC1 and Radio 4. I have also been keynote speaker at numerous professional and academic conferences including events in London, Edinburgh, Oxford, Belfast, Dublin, Copenhagen, Porto, Sofia and Bucharest. I have refereed funding applications for funding bodies based in the UK, Australia, Brazil, Switzerland and the Netherlands.

Currently, I am external examiner for Childhood and Youth Studies at the University of Greenwich and have previously been an external examiner at the Universities of Bolton, Ulster, and the National University of Ireland, Galway. I am an experienced supervisor and examiner of doctoral theses and have examined research degrees at the Universities of Bristol; Bolton; Canterbury Christ Church; Huddersfield; Lincoln; Liverpool; Murdoch, Australia; Newcastle; Portsmouth; Southampton; Staffordshire; UCL; and Worcester. I am former course leader of Huddersfield’s Doctor of Education (EdD) programme.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 1 - No Poverty
  • SDG 4 - Quality Education
  • SDG 5 - Gender Equality
  • SDG 8 - Decent Work and Economic Growth
  • SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities
  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

Education/Academic qualification

PhD, Further Education, Political Economy and Social Change

Award Date: 30 Oct 2009

Master, Industrial Relations

Award Date: 4 Sep 2000

Bachelor, BA (Hons) Modern Studies

Award Date: 3 Jun 1991

External positions

External examiner, University of Greenwich

2 Jan 202031 Dec 2024

External examiner, University of Galway

1 Sep 201831 Aug 2022

External examiner, Ulster University

1 Sep 201531 Aug 2019

Policy Advisor, Learning First

26 Oct 20134 Apr 2021

External examiner, University of Bolton

1 Sep 201331 Aug 2017

Research Expertise and Interests

  • Lifelong Learning
  • Vocational Training
  • Education Policy
  • Political Economy of Education
  • Education
  • Social Justice
  • Marginalised Youth
  • Educational Experiences
  • Labour Market Experience
  • Teachers
  • Support Workers
  • Young People
  • The sociology of education
  • Education and de-industrialisation
  • Educational and labour market experiences of marginalised youth, and those of teachers, support workers and other practitioners working with young people


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