Racialised transitions: the pathways from education to the labour market for black Caribbean young people
thesisposted on 18.07.2011, 10:49 by Yvonne Florentine Foster
This research explores post-16 transitions of a group of Black Caribbean young people, to gain insight into the factors which influence their transitions, the decisions made and executed and the outcomes produced. Biographically, significant details articulated by the individuals about their transition journey are conveyed to elucidate the particular circumstances of this group and to illustrate the dynamic nature of the dilemmas encountered and the responses enacted. In-depth interviews were conducted with 24 respondents ranging in age from 16 to 25, of mixed gender, and reflecting a spectrum of post-16 destinations. The recollections shared by respondents are examined, interpreted and presented using the framework of narrative analysis. This approach emphasises the creation of a discursive space which allows individuals to retell stories of transitions which are meaningful to the narrator. Selected biographical portraits are presented to illuminate the contours that shape experiences of transition. The attainment profile of respondents is heterogeneous and ranges from those with low levels of attainment to those with very high achievements. This disrupts the over-simplified discussions about 'ethnic minority underachievement' and reveals that attainment is more diverse than is commonly represented. Many respondents have high educational aspirations and are anxious to improve their qualifications (even low achievers). Respondents recognise that credentials are the currency for contemporary labour markets, and have ambitions for greater social mobility than their parents' generation; they are discerning about racial stereotyping and the damaging effects this can have on life chances. The research highlights that young people are ill-prepared for making crucial decisions about their post-16 options. Many parents/carers are unaware of the importance of careers information. There is unanimity in the view that careers education is wholly inadequate. Many young people fall through the net and receive no guidance. Young people need to be better prepared for their post-16 transitions; this preparation should include an entitlement to quality careers education prior to leaving school.