It’s all about trying to find a balance: seeking employment in troubled times

Tuesday 8 March 2016, 4.15 to 5.45 pm Room 790, UCL Institute of Education, 20 Bedford Way, London WC1H 0AL

Presenters: Professor Pauline Leonard and Professor Bryony Hoskins

The young people represented in the Citizenship Education Longitudinal Survey (CELs) sought to move from education to employment at one of the most economically troubled times of the UK’s recent history. High levels of unemployment across youth labour markets not only seriously impacted upon those with school-leaving level academic qualifications, but also those with university degrees. A key policy response to the serious lack of opportunities facing young people was the recommendation that they “should not give up”, but should use the time looking for employment “productively”, and seek to gain employability skills through any form of work, paid or unpaid. It is thus interesting to ask, within this enhanced emphasis on employability, how the young people in the Survey fared with respect to both paid and unpaid work.

In order to answer this question, after firstly elaborating the contextual background to our findings, we will investigate the CELS survey data to identify the main youth trajectories the young people undertook between the ages of 16 to 24. Following on from this, we will turn to the interview material to explore their transitions from education into employment in greater depth, focussing on the hopes and aspirations that the young people ascribe to work and employment within the broader contexts of their lives. In this period of economic retrenchment and shrinking work opportunities, what does work mean to the young people? And what expectations do they hold for their future working lives? 

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

Professor Pauline Leonard is Head of the Department of Sociology, Social Policy, Criminology at the University of Southampton. She is also Director of the University of Southampton’s ESRC Doctoral Training Centre and Co-Director of the Work Futures Research Centre. Her research interests are in work and organization, primarily in the ways in which aspects of social identity such as gender, race, age and class inflect working lives. She is a member of the ESRC LLAKES Research Ccentre where she is working with Dr Rachel Wilde on a project entitled ‘Getting In and Getting On: Youth Transitions to Work in times of Austerity’. She is also exploring youth transitions from education to work with Professor Bryony Hoskins and Rachel Wilde using the CELs data. A longstanding interest is skilled labour migration, and she is also currently conducting research in China on young people migrating to teach English. She has published extensively in these fields, her most recent publications are Migration, space and transnational identities: the British in South Africa (with Daniel Conway, Palgrave 2015); ‘The New Degree?’ Constructing internships in the third sector’ Sociology (2016) and ‘Geographies of labour in the third sector: making hybrid workforces in place’ Environment and Planning A (2015).

Professor Bryony Hoskins has a chair in Comparative Social Science at the University of Roehampton. She is an internationally renowned expert on political socialisation, specialising in political engagement across European Countries. Her current funded research projects are on inequalities and political engagement, political socialisation, volunteering and unpaid work. She is part of ESRC LLAKES research centre based at UCL. Professor Hoskins has previously led EU funded research whilst employed at the University of Southampton that explored the effects of the economic crisis on Active Citizenship in the EU. Prior to this and as part of the ESRC LLAKES Centre she led the comparative research on Inequalities that explored the effects of different country education systems on civic attitudes.

Professor Hoskins has 7 years of policy experience having previously worked at the Council of Europe in France leading on youth research, at the European Commission (EC) in Belgium and then in the EC in Italy leading the development of indicators on Active Citizenship. She has extensive experience of performing consultancies for the UK cabinet office, UNESCO, European Commission and Council of Europe on topics such as Citizenship, Global Citizenship, European Citizenship, Education and the European Union. Professor Hoskins is currently performing a consultancy for UNESCO on measuring Global Citizenship for the UN sustainable development goals. She has recently completed a consultancy for the UK cabinet office as the external challenger on the balance of competences between the EU and the UK government on Education.