Can individual agency compensate for socio-economic disadvantage during the transition from school to work?

3.00 to 4.30 pm, 15 December 2016, Room 731, UCL Institute of Education, 20 Bedford Way, London WC1H 0AL. 

Presenter: Professor Ingrid Schoon, UCL Institute of Education, University College London

To what extent are young people able to steer the course of their lives despite the constraining forces of social structure, and how satisfied are they with their lives following the completion of compulsory schooling? This study examines the role of structural and agentic resources in shaping school-to-work transitions in England. Drawing on data from the Longitudinal Study of Young People in England we sequence analysis of monthly activity data is used to identify differences in the timing and sequencing of education and employment transitions. six distinct pathways could be identified, differentiating between an academic track, three pathways involving further education and training, as well as a work-focused transition and a group of young people who were over a long period not in education or training (NEET). The findings suggest that not all young people are inclined to follow an academic track and instead select into pathways involving vocational training or further education, enabling them to experience competence and life satisfaction. For others, however, the lack of socio-economic and psycho-social resources is too overwhelming and they encounter long-term experience of NEET or are not able to transform their educational credentials into employment opportunities. The findings highlight that in addition to considering structural constraints it is important to conceptualize the role of the agent for a better understanding of variations in youth transitions.

Ingrid Schoon is Professor of Human Development and Social Policy at the Institute of Education, University College London and Research Professor at the Social Science Centre (Wissenschaftszentrum) Berlin. She has lead a great number of large scale and international research projects. Currently she is Principal Co-Investigator in the ESRC Centre for Learning and Life Chances in Knowledge Economies and Societies (LLakes), is directing the international post-doctoral Fellowship Program PATHWAYS to Adulthood ( Her research interests are focused on the study of risk and resilience, especially during the transition from dependent childhood to independent adulthood, and social and gender equalities in attainment, health and well-being. Her research is guided by an ecological-developmental approach, mapping human development over time and in context using longitudinal data, such as the nationally representative British cohort studies. She has served as advisor to government departments, and is member of several national and international review boards, such as the Swiss National Centre of Excellence (NCCR) and the German Youth Institute (DJI). Her publications include over 100 scholarly articles, a monograph on ‘Risk and Resilience’, and three edited books on ‘Transitions from school-to-work’  (with Rainer K. Silbereisen), ‘Gender differences in aspirations and attainment’ (with Jacquelynne Eccles) and ‘Young People’s Development and the Great Recession: Uncertain Transitions and Precarious Futures’ (with John Bynner), all published by Cambridge University Press.

The seminar is free to attend, but prior registration would be helpful: please contact  to book a place.