Ordinary lives

An ethnographic study of young people attending entry to employment programmes

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Abstract

This paper discusses the findings from a one-year ethnographic study of young people attending Entry to Employment (E2E) programmes in two local authorities in the north of England. The paper locates E2E within the broader context of provision for low-achieving young people and of UK government policy on reducing the proportion of young people who are not in education, employment or training. Although discourses associated with these categories of young people often present them in negative terms, the paper shows that this type of conceptualisation is inadequate to understand the lives of young people on the margins of education and employment. The paper also finds that the success of E2E in improving employability is mixed. The programme helps young people to improve their confidence, basic skills and personal effectiveness, as well as provides opportunities to acquire qualifications. However, employability is also linked to broader social and economic factors. Although E2E can help young people gain employment, particularly in relatively low-skill areas of work, in adverse economic conditions, the programme is unlikely to offer participants a labour market advantage.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)477-499
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Education and Work
Volume24
Issue number5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2011

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employability
economic factors
government policy
qualification
social factors
education
labor market
confidence
discourse
Employability
Education
economics
Social factors
Proportion
Labour market
Government policy
Confidence
Conceptualization
Economic conditions
Economic factors

Cite this

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title = "Ordinary lives: An ethnographic study of young people attending entry to employment programmes",
abstract = "This paper discusses the findings from a one-year ethnographic study of young people attending Entry to Employment (E2E) programmes in two local authorities in the north of England. The paper locates E2E within the broader context of provision for low-achieving young people and of UK government policy on reducing the proportion of young people who are not in education, employment or training. Although discourses associated with these categories of young people often present them in negative terms, the paper shows that this type of conceptualisation is inadequate to understand the lives of young people on the margins of education and employment. The paper also finds that the success of E2E in improving employability is mixed. The programme helps young people to improve their confidence, basic skills and personal effectiveness, as well as provides opportunities to acquire qualifications. However, employability is also linked to broader social and economic factors. Although E2E can help young people gain employment, particularly in relatively low-skill areas of work, in adverse economic conditions, the programme is unlikely to offer participants a labour market advantage.",
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