No 'right way' to progress into work
01 February 2017
Posted by: Heather Ette
Study finds that there is no ‘right way’ to progress into work
Large-scale research by academics at the UCL Institute of Education has found that there is no 'right way' to study or progress into employment.
In a study called Next Steps, which followed young people’s transitions from Year 9 to the age of 26, researchers from the UCL Institute of Education and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine found that, among almost 10,000 young people living in England who took part in the study, there was no significant difference in life satisfaction between those who chose Further Education or Higher Education.
The study suggests that young people who undergo further education are just as likely to be happy in their later lives as those who go to university.
The report states that there were “multiple pathways to a successful transition” and "There are no significant differences in levels of life satisfaction between those in higher education, vocational training, and employment after some further education."
45 per cent of young people went into higher education, and a similar proportion (42 per cent) entered the labour market – including 6.5 per cent who engaged in vocational training and 14.5 per cent who entered employment after some time in FE.
Just over a third moved quickly into work after finishing school, with some continuing their studies for a limited period of time before doing so. Roughly 6 per cent pursued vocational training before getting a job.
At age 20, the young people were asked how satisfied they were with how their lives had turned out so far. There were no significant differences between those at university, those in apprenticeships or those in work.
Nearly 13 per cent of young people spent prolonged periods of time not in education, employment or training (NEET) after they finished school. They were the least satisfied with their lives at age 20.
The authors suggested that work may offer an opportunity to feel valued, to belong and to make a contribution for young people who do not go to university. However, if young people struggle to find meaningful and challenging work, it can be detrimental to their wellbeing.
“It is encouraging that young people who find a viable career path after leaving school are just as happy with their lives regardless of whether they go on to university, an apprenticeship or work. This suggests there isn’t just one way to successfully transition into adulthood,” said Prof Ingrid Schoon, the study’s lead author.
“We must make sure that there are equal opportunities for young people who do not pursue higher education immediately after completing secondary education – this includes good quality vocational training and local labour market opportunities, particularly in the most deprived neighbourhoods.”