Ethnicity, Young People and ‘othering’ ‘Its’ like we don’t exist’; transitions from school to nowhere

This paper aims to explore the experiences of young people growing up in urban areas in the West of Scotland via community led youth work projects that aim to reengage young people categorised as NEET (Not in Employment Education or Training). By looking at their varied and complex biographies it will address young people’s experiences and perceptions of their communities and their transitions from education to the workplace. Getting lost in the transition from education to work is one of the key risks of social exclusion for young people which may lead to subsequent involvement in anti-social behaviour and crime (Bynner and Parsons, 2002; Yates and Payne, 2006; Finlay et al., 2010). The study is undertaken in a youth work organisation in an inner city ward in Glasgow.
The preliminary study explores conversations with four young people from black and minority ethnic backgrounds who discuss their transitions from school to finding a positive destination. The data was analysed and the findings from the emerging themes used to answer the research questions below.
1. To what extent and in what ways do the young people perceive their culture and ethnicity impacting on their educational attainment and ability to reach their full potential?
2. How do young people negotiate the stepping from one setting to another/one culture to another? Such as school/home/street/community, etc.
3. How successful is community education as an alternative method of re-engaging disaffected youth back into education, employment or training?
Hayward et al (2008, p18) found that the people from the same ethnic minority groups (Afro Caribbean, Pakistani and Bangladeshi) also highlighted by Smeaton et al “Parts of our schools system can match the best anywhere in the world but overall our school system is not world class. It systematically fails certain groups of children: children from poor backgrounds, looked after children, children excluded from school, children from certain ethnic groups”, are identified as failing to go onto positive destinations. This indicates that there is a link that these young people who are disadvantaged at school, do not go onto positive pathways once they leave school.
The findings cannot be generalised to the population as a whole, as the sample was very small and not a representative one. However, some interesting insights have been gained from the data which make a valuable contribution to the recent policy debate on the issues of resilience and self-direction. These have implications for further research in schools to investigate the validity of the findings.