Incentives and barriers to participation in education for males identified as NEET aged eighteen and over

The paper reports upon the initial stages of a joint enquiry that will focus upon barriers, incentives and allied strategies to re-engage males over the age of eighteen in education in order to promote social inclusion and employability. The study is a joint venture between three organisations, The People and Work Unit, NiACE Dysgu Cymru and the Cardiff School of Education at Cardiff Metropolitan University. The rationale for a collaborative approach rests on the premise that it draws upon combined expertise of a Higher Education institution, adult education and community experiential learning practitioners. It allows a greater capacity in order to conduct research within constraints imposed by other organisational workloads, thus creating space to put theory into practice. Again, collaboration enables community based practitioners who are trusted within the community that forms the research setting to act as ‘boundary spanners’ between respondents and University staff. It is envisaged that an objective of the project will be to facilitate pathways into learning for respondents, thus bringing ‘university’ to people who otherwise would not have any contact.

The main research project will draw upon an interpretative methodological standpoint. It is envisaged that semi structured, face to face interviews and focus groups for community based practitioners and residents of the study locality will form the main data collection strategies. Non probability sampling strategies will be employed. Outline enquiry areas of enquiry include motivators and de-motivators for learning; preferred methods of learning; gender, cultural, age and status and local labour market conditions.

Initial findings indicate that key issues for males with limited positive educational outcomes to date include a sense of self worth and a sense of self as a community member with a role and responsibility within and to that community. Again, initial findings indicate that that a strong incentive for participation is a visible route into the labour market.