Tuesday, 19 March 2013

The experiences of long-term unemployed young adults in the South West of England: some new insights

an article by Robert Lawy and Rachel Wheeler (University of Exeter, UK) published in Research in Post-Compulsory Education Volume 18 Issue 1-2 (2013)


In this paper we explore the experiences of three long-term unemployed young adults from different backgrounds in the 18–24 age range.

The data comprise three interviews conducted over an 18-month period with seven of the original 19 participants in the research. At the time of first interview none of the young adults had been in education, employment or training for six months. Drawing upon a Bourdieusian framework, we demonstrate that differential access to economic, social and cultural resources significantly influenced, not only what they were able to reasonably contemplate but also what they were able to achieve.

We question some commonly held assumptions about young people and their orientations, and the efficacy of economic and educational policies designed to increase employment, reduce inequality and ‘meet the needs’ of the unemployed.

We claim that new insights and understandings of youth unemployment and transition can result from a broader, more holistic theorisation that fully represents the experiences and understandings of all the young adults that are being affected.

Notwithstanding this, we indicate the need for research to increase understanding and provide a strong, robust and theoretically informed evidence base for policy-makers and those concerned with the interests of young unemployed adults.

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