'NEETS': perceptions and aspirations of young people Not in Education, Employment or Training

Sweenie, Sandra (2009) 'NEETS': perceptions and aspirations of young people Not in Education, Employment or Training. Ed.D thesis, University of Glasgow.

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The increasing emphasis on the relationship between participation in education and social inclusion through employment views non-participating young people negatively by what they are not, exemplified in the label Not in Education, Employment or Training (NEET). The UK’s strategy to reduce the numbers of NEET young people includes the provision of government training courses resulting in their increased attendance at further education colleges. This study was motivated by a need to understand these young people in order to work with them and to inform my professional practice. By engaging in purposeful conversation with a group of 14 young people, aspects of their lives, their experiences and perceptions of education, and their aspirations for the future are unfolded through the stories they chose to share. A consideration of the impact of forces of globalisation on opportunities for employment along with a recent history of youth training schemes sets the scene here for the analysis and discussion of these stories. Providing a fair account of stories in a way that allows the teller’s voice to be heard follows an uncharted course employing methods drawn from ethnographic, phenomenographic and narrative inquiry and resulting in a dissertation that blends theory, research and policy with the stories heard. Hearing such stories and considering their implications for working with these young people had a significant personal impact whilst confirming my conviction that in order to work successfully with such young people it is necessary to go beyond the label of NEET to understand something of their lives. Reflective and reflexive discussion around the methods adopted in this study consequently forms a major part of this dissertation as does explicit attention to the research journey travelled. The analysis of the stories of the young people centres here on notions of wellbeing and flourishing using a capabilities approach as a framework. By mapping themes identified in the conversations recorded in this study onto Martha Nussbaum’s list of central capabilities a re-framed version of her capabilities list, contextualised to NEET young lives is presented. It emerges that the perceptions of education and training and aspirations for future employment and wellbeing amongst this particular group do not justify the frequently negative connotations of the NEET label. Individual’s expressed anxieties around contemporary youth culture, their attitudes towards schooling and education and their hopes for their lives lead, in the final chapter of this study, to suggestions for ways forward for schools and colleges working with such young people. Here I emphasise the need for teachers to make space to understand the people behind the labels, to see them as individuals who may flourish more successfully if we are able to construct more compassionate institutions that allow young people to do and to be, to develop the capacities to lead the meaningful lives they desire and will have reason to value.

Item Type: Thesis (Ed.D)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
L Education > LB Theory and practice of education
Colleges/Schools: College of Social Sciences > School of Education
Supervisor's Name: Hedge, Dr. Nicki
Date of Award: 2009
Depositing User: Mrs Sandra Sweenie
Unique ID: glathesis:2009-1877
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 07 Jun 2010
Last Modified: 22 Apr 2013 12:10
URI: http://theses.gla.ac.uk/id/eprint/1877

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