Negotiating uncertain economic times: Youth employment strategies in England

Bryony Hoskins, Pauline Leonard, Rachel Wilde

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

142 Downloads (Pure)


Higher education is commonly understood as the gateway to better, higher-paying jobs. This article draws on longitudinal survey and interview data to explore how different groups of young people, those who left school at 18 and those graduating from higher education, negotiated pathways into employment or otherwise during the ‘Great Recession’ in England. While a mix of employment and unemployment featured in both groups, with temporary and unstable contracts more common than skilled and secure jobs, our evidence reveals that those with degrees were less likely to be in work at the ages of 22 to 23 than those who left school to enter employment at 18. In some contradistinction to popular discourses on the employability benefits of higher education therefore, during the recession, entering paid work at 18 was a more effective strategy for being in employment five years later than proceeding into higher education.

© 2017, The Author(s). This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC-BY 4.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. See
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)61-79
JournalBritish Educational Research Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 25 Dec 2017


  • employment
  • transitions
  • mixed methods
  • Higher Education

Cite this