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The Paradox of the Raising Participation Age: the experiences of ‘disengaged’ youth on an employability course in a further education college

Cornish, Carlene (2019) The Paradox of the Raising Participation Age: the experiences of ‘disengaged’ youth on an employability course in a further education college. PhD thesis, University of Essex.

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Abstract

The Raising of Participation Age (RPA) policy introduced by the UK government in 2013 claims that youth participating in post-16 education and training are able to attain higher qualifications and skilled employment. Adopting a case study approach within a large further education (FE) college, qualitative research was conducted over two academic years (2013–2015) with tutors and students enrolled on the Level 1 Achieving Skills Course, an employability course designed as an RPA re-engagement provision to engage former NEET and disengaged youth in further education. Highlighting the paradox of RPA, my key empirical findings show that instead of the ‘upskilling’ and ‘equal’ access and opportunity announced in government rhetoric, most participants were marginalised and participated in an employability course which rarely resulted in quality tuition, or the right type of qualifications needed to progress within this setting. Although the course was considered a second-chance opportunity, the way this particular RPA re-engagement was enforced at The Site produced social exclusionary practices and multiple barriers which systematically filtered, blocked and prevented most participants from acquiring the credible qualifications needed to facilitate their progression in education and employment. This thesis argues that while in one sense RPA may not have the desired effect for most participants, from a policy perspective this re-engagement course was accomplishing policy goals in the sense that most former NEETs were re-engaged in an RPA course regardless of quality concerns. They were off the streets and being kept busy, regulated and socially controlled within The Site. Yet, in terms of improving labour market outcomes for the participants, RPA looks to have been a failure. Keywords: Raising of Participation Age (RPA); Further Education (FE); NEET (not in education, employment or training); Employability; Youth

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
Divisions: Faculty of Social Sciences > Sociology, Department of
Depositing User: Carlene Cornish
Date Deposited: 03 Apr 2019 10:59
Last Modified: 08 Nov 2019 11:53
URI: http://repository.essex.ac.uk/id/eprint/24387

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