Location of Repository

Racialised transitions: the pathways from education to the labour market for black Caribbean young people

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. \ud 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. \ud 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. \ud 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

Publisher: University of Leicester
Year: 2011
OAI identifier: oai:lra.le.ac.uk:2381/9533

Suggested articles



  1. (1991). A Linguistic Approach to Narrative‟,
  2. (2006). A social representation is not a quiet thing: Exploring the critical potential of social representations theory‟,
  3. Accessed 30/11/2009 Appendix 5.1: Selection of Biographical Portraits retook. She‟s currently doing the BTEC National Diploma in childcare.
  4. (1994). Achilles in Vietnam.
  5. (1997). Active Interviewing‟,
  6. (2006). After race: Ethnography, race and post-race theory‟,
  7. (1996). Ambition and marginalisation: A qualitative study of underachieving young men of Afro-Caribbean origin,
  8. (2001). An Ethical Code for Researching race, Racism & Anti-racism in Scotland‟,
  9. (2008). Analysing Narrative Contexts‟,
  10. (2003). Analysis of Narratives‟,
  11. (1996). Asians have culture, West Indians have problems: Discourses of race/ethnicity in and out of anthropology‟, in
  12. (2003). Autoethnography, Personal Narrative, Reflexivity: Researcher as Subject‟,
  13. (2004). Becoming Adult: Changing Youth Transitions in the 21st Century.
  14. (2000). Bettering Yourself? Discourses of risk, cost and benefit in ethnically diverse, young working-class non participants‟ constructions of higher education.
  15. (1995). Beyond the Mask: Race, Gender and Subjectivity.
  16. (2003). Beyond the qualitative interview: Data preparation and transcription‟,
  17. (2005). Biographical turning points in young people‟s transitions to work across Europe‟,
  18. (2007). Biographies of exclusion: Poor work and poor transitions‟,
  19. (2000). Black Caribbean Young Men‟s Experiences of Education and Employment, DfEE/National Centre for Social Research, Research Report No.
  20. (1997). Black Masculinities and Schooling.
  21. (1988). Black struggles, equality and education‟,
  22. (2007). Black Youth Activism and the role of Critical Social Capital in
  23. (2010). Black Youth Matters: Transitions from school to success.
  24. (2001). Black youth on the margins: A research review.
  25. (1993). Black, White or Mixed Race?‟: Race and racism in the lives of young people of mixed parentage.
  26. (2007). Can achievement differentials be explained by social class alone?: An examination of minority ethnic educational performance in England and Wales at the end of compulsory schooling‟,
  27. (2004). Career decision-making: making learning careers and career progression‟. Nuffield Review of 14-19 Education and Training: Working Paper 12. Accessed 23/03/2010.
  28. (1997). Careership: a sociological theory of career decision-making‟,
  29. (2004). Caribbean Families, Social Capital and Young People‟s Diasporic Identities‟,
  30. (1996). Cartographies of Diaspora.
  31. (1993). Case not proven: An evaluation of a study of teacher racism‟,
  32. (2004). Centre and periphery‟
  33. (2002). Change, culture and tradition: British Muslim pupils talk about Muslim girls‟
  34. (2003). Choice at the end of compulsory schooling: A research review. Department for Education and Skills Research Report 414.
  35. (2006). Choice biographies and transitional linearity: Reconceptualising modern youth transitions‟.
  36. (2006). Class, ethnicity and individualisation: Young adult narratives of transition in two European cities‟,
  37. (2007). Constructing Coherence? young adults‟ pursuit of meaning through multiple transitions between work, education and unemployment‟,
  38. (2007). Constructing identities and making careers: Young people‟s perspectives on work and learning‟,
  39. (2005). Contemporary Youth Research: Local Expressions and Global Expressions.
  40. (2007). Continuity and change in the experience of transition from school to work‟,
  41. (1998). Dealing with difference: The recursive and the new‟,
  42. (2004). Defined by some distinctly hyphenated Britishness‟, Times Higher Education Supplement,
  43. (1999). Designing Qualitative Research.
  44. (2000). Dialectics of Diaspora Identification‟,
  45. (2000). Difference, Diversity, Differentiation‟,
  46. (2007). Disappearing” discrimination? The New Deal, ethnicity and the limits of policy evaluation‟,
  47. (2005). Disconnected Youth? Growing up in Britain‟s poor neighbourhoods.
  48. (2004). Discourses of Exclusion: Reconceptualising participation amongst young people‟,
  49. (1997). Diversity, Choice and Ethnicity: The effects of educational markets on ethnic minorities‟,
  50. (1998). Doing a Literature Review.
  51. (2005). Doing Qualitative Research.
  52. (1998). Dread, Beat and Blood”: Race, racism & post-war youth culture‟,
  53. (2007). Eagles who soar: how black learners find the path to success. Stoke-on-Trent:
  54. (1998). Education and family components of identity in the transition from school to work‟,
  55. (2000). Education and Training Post-16: The Role of Gender and Ethnicity,
  56. (1986). Education For Some: The educational & vocational experiences of 15-18 year old members of minority ethnic groups. Stoke-on-Trent:
  57. (2000). Educational Inequality: Mapping race, class and gender: A synthesis of research evidence. London: OFSTED. At www.ofsted.gov.uk.
  58. (2005). Emergent Citizens? African Caribbean and Pakistani Young People in Birmingham and Bradford, Economic and Social Science Research Council Report.
  59. (1995). Emerging Criteria for Quality in Qualitative and Interpretive Research‟,
  60. (2005). Employment, Individualization and insecurity: Rethinking the risk society perspective‟, The Sociological Review.
  61. (1996). Essentialising the Other: A critical response‟, in
  62. et al (2000) Minority ethnic participation and achievements in education, training and the labour market.
  63. et al (2001) The Delivery of Careers Education and Guidance
  64. et al (2002) Young People‟s changing routes to independence.
  65. (1997). et al eds
  66. (1999). et al eds.
  67. et.al (2001) „Review Symposium‟,
  68. (2000). Ethnic Differences in the Labour Market: The role of education and social class origins, Sociology Working Paper,
  69. (2008). Ethnic minorities and non-response in the Millennium Cohort Study. Centre for Longitudinal Studies Working Paper 2008/11. London: Institute of Education.
  70. (2007). Ethnic Minorities in the Labour Market. Joseph Rowntree Foundation.
  71. (2006). Ethnic Minority Populations and the Labour Market: An analysis of the 1991 and
  72. (2006). Ethnic penalties in the labour market: Employers and discrimination. Department for Work and Pensions Research Report No 341.
  73. (1991). Ethnicity and Educational Attainment in England: An Overview‟,
  74. (2006). Ethnicity and research evaluating health interventions: Issues of science and ethics‟,
  75. (1996). Ethnicity and the politics of cultural differences: An agenda for the 1990s?‟,
  76. (2004). Ethnicity, educational attainment and the transition from school‟,
  77. (2005). Ethnicity, Social Mobility and Public Policy. Cambridge:
  78. (2002). Ethnographic Research: A Reader.
  79. (2006). Ethnography as politics: A critical review of British studies of racialised minorities‟,
  80. (1995). Examining Lives in Context. Washington:
  81. (2005). Exploring Complex Transitions: Looking back at the “Golden Age” of from school to work‟,
  82. (1988). Extended Review‟,
  83. (2008). Financial Inclusion and Ethnicity. London: Runnymede Trust.
  84. (2001). for Integrated Social Research (EGRIS)
  85. (2008). Fractured Transitions: Young adults‟ pathways into contemporary labour markets‟,
  86. (2006). Fragmented careers?: Winners and losers in young adult labour markets‟,
  87. (2005). From Education to Work: A difficult transition for young adults with low levels of education (?)
  88. (2000). From Interview Transcript to Interpretive Story: Part 1 – Viewing the transcript through multiple lenses‟,
  89. (2000). From Interview Transcript to Interpretive Story: Part: 2 – Developing an interpretive story‟,
  90. (2003). From School to Work.
  91. (1997). From Socialisation to Postmodernity: A review of theoretical perspectives on the school-to-work transition‟,
  92. (1986). Gender and Ethnicity
  93. (2009). Global generations and the trap of methodological nationalism for a cosmopolitan turn in the sociology of youth and generation‟,
  94. (1999). Global Trends in Flexible Labour.
  95. (2001). Growing Up Girl.
  96. (2006). Health and Social Research in Multiethnic Societies.
  97. (2008). Hiding out in the open”: Young people and social class in UK youth studies‟,
  98. (2006). How many interviews are enough? An experiment with data saturation and variability‟,
  99. (1996). How to Research.
  100. (1998). I don‟t want to commit myself yet”: Young people‟s life concepts‟,
  101. (2003). Identity Traps or how Black students fail: The interactions between biographical, sub-cultural and learner identities‟,
  102. (1995). Individual agency, the ordinary and postmodern life‟,
  103. (2002). Individualization.
  104. (2003). Inside Interviewing.
  105. (1993). Interpreting Qualitative Data: Methods for analysing talk, text and interaction.
  106. (2006). Intersectionality and Feminist Politics‟,
  107. (2002). Introduction: Framing difference: racial and ethnic studies
  108. (2007). Inventing Adulthoods: A biographical approach to youth transitions.
  109. (2001). It‟s easier that you‟re a girl and you‟re Asian”: Interactions of race and gender between researchers and respondents‟,
  110. (2007). Judged by the company we keep: Friendships networks, social capital and ethnic identity of Caribbean young people
  111. (2007). Keynote presentation to conference on researching transitions in lifelong learning,
  112. (2003). Knowing their limits”? Identities, inequalities and inner city school leavers‟ post-16 aspirations‟,
  113. (1997). Kundera‟s Immortality”: The interview society and the invention of self‟,
  114. (2001). Learning and Working: Double statuses in youth transitions within the European Union. Research Centre for Education and the Labour Market.
  115. (2000). Learning Careers: Continuity and change in young people‟s dispositions to learning‟,
  116. (1977). Learning to Labour,
  117. (2003). Learning to Listen: Narrative principles in qualitative research methods course‟, in
  118. (1993). Life Stories: The Creation of Coherence. Oxford:
  119. (1994). Living in a post-traditional society‟, in
  120. (2006). Loss, survival, and redemption: African-American male youths‟ reflections on life without fathers, manhood and coming of age‟,
  121. (2007). Lost and found in transition: The implications of “identity”, “agency” and “structure” for educational goals and practices‟.
  122. (2005). Making race matter: Bodies, space and identity.
  123. (1999). Making the Grade”: The Labour Market and
  124. (2008). Mapping gender and social background differences in education and youth transitions across Europe‟,
  125. (2002). Mapping present inequalities to navigate future success: Racialisation and education‟,
  126. (2002). Missing ConneXions: The career dynamics and welfare needs of black and minority ethnic young people at the margins. Joseph Rowntree Foundation.
  127. (2003). Mobility and ethnic minorities‟,
  128. (1995). Models of Narrative Analysis‟,
  129. (1991). Modernity and elf-identity.
  130. (2003). Narrating Social Structure: Stories of resistance to legal authority‟,
  131. (2006). Narrative accounts of origins: A blind spot in the intersectional approach‟,
  132. (1993). Narrative Analysis,
  133. (1990). Narrative and Sociology‟,
  134. (1995). Narrative configuration in qualitative analysis‟,Qualitative
  135. (2000). Narrative Inquiry: Experience and Story in Qualitative Research.
  136. (2008). Narrative Methods for the Human Sciences.
  137. (1998). Narrative Research, Reading, Analysis and Interpretation,
  138. (1997). Narrative Turn or Blind Alley?‟
  139. (1993). Narrative‟s Moment and Sociology‟s Phenomena: Towards a narrative sociology‟,
  140. (2001). Narrative‟s Virtues‟,
  141. (2005). Narratives in Social Work‟,
  142. (2000). New Patterns of Youth Transition in
  143. (2002). Nomadic Subjects: Young black women in Britain‟, Discourse: studies in cultural politics
  144. (2000). Normalized dislocation and new subjectivities in post-16 markets for education and work‟,
  145. (2006). Not so NEET? A critique of the use of “NEET” in setting targets for interventions with young people‟,
  146. (2000). Obsession with the dark side of adolescence: A decade of psychological studies‟,
  147. (2000). Old and new identities, old and new ethnicities‟,
  148. (1997). On Race and Voice: Challenges for Liberal Education in the 1990s‟,
  149. (1996). Openings, Absences and Omissions: Aspects of the treatment of race, culture and ethnicity in British cultural studies‟,
  150. (2003). Pathways Linking Education and Work: A Review of concepts, research, and policy debates‟,
  151. (1996). Personal vulnerability and interpretive authority in narrative research‟,
  152. (2004). Poor Transitions: Social exclusion and young adults.
  153. (2005). Population profiling” and public health risk: When and how should we use race/ethnicity?‟
  154. (1994). Postmodern Blackness‟,
  155. (2007). Poverty and Ethnicity in the UK.
  156. (1987). Qualitative Analysis for Social Scientists. Cambridge:
  157. (1993). Qualitative Data Analysis.
  158. (1998). Qualitative Inquiry and Research Design: Choosing among the Five Traditions.
  159. (2005). Qualitative Psychology: Introducing Radical Research.
  160. (2002). Qualitative Research & Evaluation Methods.
  161. (2001). Qualitative Research Interviewing.
  162. (2004). Qualitative Research Practice.
  163. (2001). Qualitative research: Standards, challenges, and guidelines‟,
  164. (2002). Qualitative Research.
  165. (2002). Race and Intelligence: Separating Science From Myth. London: Lawrence Erlbaum.
  166. (2004). Race and Social Research. Hull:
  167. (2004). Race Ethnicity and Difference. Maindenhead:
  168. (2007). Race Relations: A critique. Stanford:
  169. (1999). Race, Education and the Discourse of ”Exclusion”: A critical research note,
  170. (1995). Race, Education and Work: The Statistics of Inequality.
  171. (2009). Race, Gender and Educational Desire: Why Black Women Succeed and Fail.
  172. (2005). Race, Gender and Educational Desire‟: Inaugural Professorial Lecture. Accessed
  173. (1999). Race, identities and lives‟, The Sociological Review,
  174. (2003). Race, subjectivity and the interview process‟,
  175. (2000). Race/ethnicity in Modern Britain.
  176. (1998). Racial categories matter because racial hierarchies matter: A commentary‟,
  177. (1997). Racial Stratification and Education in the United States: Why inequality persists‟,
  178. (1998). Racialised Gendering and Youth Employment Opportunities. Economic and Social Research Council
  179. (2000). Racialized Discourses and Ethnic Epistemologies‟,
  180. (2000). Racing Research.
  181. (2008). Racism and Education: Coincidence or Conspiracy.
  182. (2000). Rationing Education: Policy, Practice, Reform and Equity.
  183. (2004). Re/theorizing “difference” in feminist research‟,
  184. (2003). Recent radical criticism of interview studies: Any implications for the sociology of education?‟
  185. (1993). Representations of Youth.
  186. (1991). Representing Discourse: The Rhetoric of Transcription‟,
  187. (2006). Rescuing narrative from qualitative research‟,
  188. (2002). Research on Youth Transitions: Some critical interventions‟,
  189. (2001). Researching an-„other‟ minority ethnic community: Reflections of a black female researcher on the intersections of race, gender and other power positions on the research process‟,
  190. (2003). Researching black parents: Making sense of the role of research and the researcher‟,
  191. (2009). Researching ethnic inequalities‟,
  192. (2004). Researching Race and Racism.
  193. (2010). Researching Race/ethnicity: Methodological Issues‟,
  194. (2003). Researching race/ethnicity.
  195. (2009). Researching Young People‟s Lives.
  196. (2003). Researching Youth.
  197. (2005). Resilience and refusal: African Caribbean young men‟s agency, school exclusions, and school-based mentoring programmes‟,
  198. (1990). Restructuring the Labour Market.
  199. (1997). Rethinking the Youth Question.
  200. (1997). Rethinking youth identities: New challenges‟,
  201. (1997). Rethinking Youth.
  202. Revista de sociologia Núm. 79 Materials de sociologia de la joventut Accessed 24/02/2007.
  203. (1999). Rights and Wrongs”: Youth, community and narratives of racial violence‟,
  204. (1995). Rights of Passage: Social Change and the Transition from Youth to Adulthood.
  205. (2006). Risk and Resilience. Cambridge:
  206. (1992). Risk Society.
  207. (2001). Routes, a comparative and holistic study of youth transitions in the North of England. Economic and Social Science Research Council Routes Project.
  208. (2006). Safety in Stereotypes? The impact of gender and race on young people‟s perceptions of their post-compulsory education and labour market opportunities‟,
  209. (2003). Serendipity and agency in narratives of transition: Young adult women and their careers‟, in
  210. (2005). Seven Black Men: an ecological study of education and parenting.
  211. (2002). She wants to be like her mum?”: Girls‟ transitions to work in the 1960s‟,
  212. (2001). Snakes & Ladders:
  213. (2007). Social and cultural capital meets youth research: A critical approach‟,
  214. (1997). Social class differences in family relationships: The importance of social capital‟,
  215. (2009). Social class, youth and young adulthood in the context of a shifting global economy‟,
  216. (2005). Social mobility of ethnic minorities,‟
  217. (2001). Social Research Methods.
  218. (1999). Sociological Research Methods in Context.
  219. (1990). Storylines, Craftartists‟ Narratives of Identity. Massachusetts:
  220. (2005). Storytelling Sociology: Narrative as Social Inquiry. London: Lynne Rienner Publishers.
  221. (1996). Street credibility and identity: Some observations on the art of being black‟,
  222. (1998). Structure and Agency in Youth Transitions: Student experiences of vocational further education‟,
  223. (1997). Structure and agency: The new youth research agenda‟,
  224. (2006). Taking a Stand. Manchester: The Gus John Partnership.
  225. (1995). Taking narratives seriously: consequences for methods and theory in interview studies‟,
  226. (2003). Teaching Interpretation‟, in
  227. (2005). Tell It Like It Is: How our schools fail black children. Stoke on Trent:
  228. (2008). Telling Young Lives: Portraits of global youth.
  229. (2005). The “Lads” and the Cultural Topography of Race‟,
  230. (1994). The ”Everyday World” of Teachers? Deracialised discourses in the sociology of teachers and the teaching profession‟,
  231. (2001). The concept of “social division” and theorising social stratification: Looking at ethnicity and class‟,
  232. (1999). The Deracialisation of Initial Teacher Training: Implications for social justice‟,
  233. (1997). The forms of capital‟
  234. (2003). The Foundations of Social Research.
  235. (2001). The Individualized Society.
  236. (1988). The Long Interview,
  237. (2004). The myth of neutrality in educational research‟,
  238. (1991). The Narrative Construction of Reality‟,
  239. (1983). The politics of Black youth unemployment: A critical analysis of official ideologies and policies, Working Paper
  240. (2003). The problem of criteria in the age of relativism‟,
  241. (2003). The reflexive self and culture: A critique‟,
  242. (1997). The relationship between racial identity and self esteem in African-American college and high school students‟,
  243. (2002). The Role of Identity Capital in the Transition to Adulthood: The individualization thesis examined‟,
  244. (1999). The school-to-work transition 20 years on: Issues, evidence and conundrums‟, in OECD, Preparing Youth for the 21st century: Issues, evidence and conundrums.
  245. (1996). The school-to-work transition in the United Kingdom‟,
  246. (1959). The Sociological Imagination.
  247. (2003). The Student‟s Guide to Research Ethics.
  248. (2000). The theoretical status of the concept of race‟ in L. Back and J. Solomos eds, Theories of Race and Racism: A reader.
  249. (2000). The Usefulness of in-depth life history interviews for exploring the role of social structure and human agency in youth transitions‟,
  250. (2006). The Uses of Narrative: Explorations in sociology, psychology and cultural studies.
  251. (2002). The Youth Divide: Diverging paths to adulthood.
  252. (1987). There Ain‟t No Black in the Union Jack.
  253. (2004). Three rules I go by in my ethnographic research on race and racism‟,
  254. (1995). Transcription quality as an aspect of rigour in qualitative research‟,
  255. (2002). Transition and transformation: The experiences of two young people‟,
  256. (2009). Transitions from School to Work: Globalization, individualization and patterns of diversity. Cambridge:
  257. (2005). Transitions in Context. Maidenhead:
  258. (1997). Twenty-something in the 1990s.
  259. (1985). Typical Girls?
  260. (2000). Undaunted Courage: Life history and the postmodern challenge‟,
  261. (1988). Under Western Eyes‟,
  262. (2008). Understanding career decision-making and progression: Careership revisited‟. Accessed 30/03/2010.
  263. (2007). Understanding Minority Ethnic Achievement: Race, gender, class and „success‟.
  264. (2007). Understanding Youth in Late Modernity.
  265. (2007). Understanding Youth: Perspectives, identities and practices.
  266. (2007). Unequal Chances: Ethnic Minorities in Western Labour Markets.
  267. (2009). Unfolding Lives: Youth, Gender and Change.
  268. (2005). Using Narrative in Social Research: Qualitative and Quantitative Approaches.
  269. (2007). Using narrative inquiry as a research method.
  270. (1990). Validation in Inquiry-Guided Research: The Role of exemplars in narrative studies‟,
  271. (1998). What is agency?‟
  272. (2009). What is the meaning of “black”? Researching “black” respondents‟,
  273. (2006). What to do about values in social research: The case for ethical reflexivity in the sociology of education‟,
  274. (2005). Whatever happened to the (likely) lads? ”Learning to Labour” 25 years on‟,
  275. (2008). Which way do I ought to go from here?”: The need for highquality careers advice‟,
  276. (2004). Who cares about “experience”? Missing issues in qualitative research‟,
  277. (2005). Whose culture has capital? A critical race theory discussion of community cultural wealth‟, Race, Ethnicity and Education,
  278. (2003). Writing: A method of inquiry‟, in
  279. (2005). Young Bangledeshi people‟s experience of transition to adulthood.
  280. (1999). Young Caribbean men and the labour market: A comparison with other ethnic groups.
  281. (2009). Young people and social capital‟
  282. (1997). Young People and Social Change: Individualisation and Risk in Late Modernity.
  283. (2009). Young people, race andethnicity‟,
  284. (2006). Young people‟s experience of transition to adulthood: A study of minority ethnic and white young people.
  285. (1992). Young, Female and Black.
  286. (1991). Young, Gifted and Black”: Methodological reflections of a teacher/researcher‟,
  287. (2007). Youth and Social Capital.
  288. (2004). Youth in a Comparative Perspective: Global change, local lives‟,
  289. (2000). Youth Lifestyles in a Changing World.
  290. (1997). Youth research in the 1990s: Time for (another) rethink‟,
  291. (2007). Youth Transitions and Generations: A response to Wyn and Woodman‟,
  292. (2005). Youth Transitions and the 14-19 “Occupational Route” in England‟,
  293. (2005). Youth Transitions in a Globalised Marketplace.
  294. (2004). Youth Transitions in Australia: Challenging assumptions of linearity and choice‟,
  295. (2003). Youth Transitions: Patterns of Vulnerability and Processes of Social Inclusion. Scottish Executive Social Research.
  296. (1997). Youth, Citizenship and Social Change in a European Context. Aldershot:
  297. (2001). Youth, Education and Risk.
  298. (2009). Youth: Key Concepts.

To submit an update or takedown request for this paper, please submit an Update/Correction/Removal Request.