Jumping off the track: comparing the experiences of first jobs of young people living in disadvantaged and non-disadvantaged neighbourhoods in Britain

Publication type

Journal Article


Publication date

June 1, 2014


This paper draws on an analysis of one of the UK's most prominent longitudinal datasets, the British Household Panel Survey. The panel was used to study and track the realisation of job aspirations of young people born in the early 1980s and entering the workforce in the 2000s. The study compared the aspirations of those growing up in socio-economically disadvantaged areas with those growing up in non-disadvantaged areas. The analysis confirmed strong differences in the occupational preferences and choices of young people in these two types of areas. Young people in disadvantaged areas more often sought manual occupations, often following their parents' example. They were also more likely to become unemployed, reflecting economic tertiarisation and decreasing availability of manual jobs in those areas. However, the study also found evidence of young people from disadvantaged areas using repeated changes in jobs to achieve employment in higher-level occupations. The research demonstrated that growing up in disadvantaged areas did not prevent the proactive construction of career biographies per se, but it required overcoming more barriers to do so.

Published in

Journal of Youth Studies

Volume and page numbers

Volume: 17 , p.1 -1







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