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Young people's experiences of vocational education and training (VET)

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Purpose ‐ The aim of the paper is to locate and understand VET provision for young people in England and Scotland as a set of policies and practices that can also be located within a broader Europe-wide discourse. Design/methodology/approach ‐ The research drew upon findings from a longitudinal study that comprised interviews with young people who were in JWT at the outset of the research. The work was conducted in the South West of England in 2007 and 2008 and comprised in-depth interviews with 13 young people, supported with 155 telephone interviews, a focus group session with three young people, and a participative research seminar with 25 key stakeholders. Findings ‐ The research showed that although there are nuanced differences in approach, the fundamental basis of the policy rhetorics is the same. Whilst the issues and questions in this paper have been informed by the position in the UK and in particular England, it would seem that the same or similar issues and concerns have become part of the mainstream discourse, certainly within the OECD countries and beyond. Research limitations/implications ‐ The methodology brings a narrative approach (focused upon individual young people), to bear upon a set of policy discourses within the education and skills agenda. Whilst the approach of the paper does not allow for generalisation, it does highlight the problem with a policy focus that fails to take account of what those most affected by the policies actually value and believe. Originality/value ‐ This paper draws together policy narratives and the experiences of young people.

Keywords: Disadvantaged groups; Unemployment; United Kingdom; Vocational training; Young adults

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: January 1, 2010

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