Why do some individuals enter the Welsh labour market already in a disadvantaged position? What interventions can be made to address this disadvantage? These are just some of the questions that will be investigated by the ADR Wales Skills and Employability research programme.
This innovative programme will continue to work with education partners in Wales to better understand the barriers individuals face in finding meaningful work and accessing the skills and training needed to compete. The programme will address questions of low skills levels in Wales, the progression from education and training to meaningful jobs against a backdrop of Brexit and the pandemic. This research is aligned with Welsh Government’s commitment to addressing the damage of these economic shocks while also building “an economy based on the principles of fair work, sustainability and the industries and services of the future”.
The research team will follow the pathways from education through to training and employment. The interaction of individuals with services from the government (such as employment and training support programmes) and third-sector agencies (such as Careers Wales) produces a rich resource of administrative data the research team can use to learn about the various socioeconomic and demographic factors that affect employment and labour market outcomes. Linking this data across de-identified education and census datasets can have an even greater impact in producing policy-informing research needed to help break the poverty cycle.
Our skills and employability research theme has been developed to align with the key priorities in Stronger, Fairer, Greener Wales: A Plan for Employability and Skills published in March 2022.
This work will focus on three areas: career information, advice and guidance; higher education participation and progression; and the labour market in Wales.
Developing further our collaboration with Careers Wales, we will look at the intended career pathways and aspirations of school leavers. We will consider whether different groups, such as those with lower educational attainment, follow their intended pathways and aspirations using linked survey and administrative data.
We will also examine the relationship between careers guidance and progression into higher education, extending previous work that showed the impact of guidance on continuing in post-compulsory education at age 16.
We will explore who progresses to higher education and who is more likely to drop out. We will look at the importance of family background and who is most likely to gain entry to a prestigious higher education institution. We will also examine whether these transitions vary for Welsh speakers and those who were educated through the medium of Welsh.
We will look at the routes and retention of graduates in the Welsh labour market, and will link education data to registers of the social care and teaching workforces, identifying the access routes and characteristics of those entering into these specific areas of employment. We will also examine participation in work-related training and the effects of programmes designed to support participation and progression in the labour market.
Widening participation in the tertiary education sector in Wales
Commissioned by the Wales Centre for Public Policy (WCPP), this project focuses on equality of opportunity and widening participation, retention and attainment across the tertiary sector in Wales. The project will support a greater understanding of influences on progression through, and attainment in, post-compulsory education by asking questions such as:
- What are the characteristics of learners over the age of 16 in Welsh Government funded institutions with respect to protected and supported characteristic and how are these protected characteristics associated with further progression through post compulsory education and training?
- How do these compare to those in the wider population?
Findings will contribute to the widening participation agenda evidence base and the work of the new Commission for Tertiary Education and Research.
Careers Guidance in Post-Compulsory Education Settings
The transition from compulsory education to work is becoming increasingly complex. As a result of previous work alongside the Welsh Government’s Careers Wales careers guidance service, there is a detailed understanding of the provision of careers advice and guidance in school. However, little is known about the engagement of pupils in post compulsory education and training. This project will look to fill that evidence gap by asking questions such as:
- Who receives careers guidance during Key Stage 5?
- What is the nature of this provision and how does it vary between those in further education, those in sixth form settings and those taking academic versus vocational qualifications?
Welsh Language and progression to Higher Education
Attracting and retaining graduates is critical to local and regional economic performance and as such, interest in the geography of graduate labour in the UK is growing. These issues are particularly pertinent in relation to Wales as the existence of a ‘brain drain’ of graduate labour from Wales has become a focus of recent debate.
This project aims to understand issues surrounding the progression of Welsh speaking students by asking questions such as:
- What factors are associated with progression to Higher Education?
- Which students are more likely to enter prestigious universities?
- Do these factors differ among those who are fluent in Welsh or have been schooled through the medium of Welsh?
Data Insight: How is careers guidance for school pupils prioritised?
This Data Insight explores how information is used to inform decisions regarding the provision of careers guidance interviews among key stage 4 (KS4) pupils in Wales. It explores the relative importance of background characteristics contained within administrative education records compared to information supplied by pupils via the Careers Wales diagnostic tool.
Data Insight: Effectiveness of careers guidance in supporting participation in Post Compulsory Education and Training (PCET)
This Data Insight explores the influence careers guidance can have on transitions to Post Compulsory Education and Training (PCET) in Wales. The analysis examines rates of transition to PCET in Wales, whether the receipt of careers guidance during key stage 4 supports transition to PCET and, if so, whether it benefits some groups of pupils more than others.