Creating more equitable school-to-work transitions for young people not taking the university route: an ‘equalities-ecologies’ framework

Sharon Gewirtz*, Charlotte McPherson, Sait Bayrakdar, Meg Maguire, Alice Weavers, Chris Winch, Andrea Laczik, Olly Newton, Alison Wolf

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article proposes and illustrates a framework for thinking about how the school-to-work transitions of young people not intending to go to university can be made more equitable. This framework seeks to enrich sociological readings of VET by building on the considerable strengths of existing research on ecologies of VET provision and the life-worlds of young people navigating transitions, and bringing them together with concerns about the theoretical and practical complexity of equality that have tended to be relatively neglected in VET research to date. Its organising principle is that, in order to make young people’s transitions more equitable, we need to systematically combine analytic attention to: the multidimensional and intersectional nature of inequality; how local learning ecologies are produced at different system-levels; and how these ecologies interact with young people’s life-worlds, values and agency. We argue that identifying which aspects of local learning ecologies underpin or undermine which kinds of equality for differently resourced young people represents an important first step towards formulating a strategy for how local learning ecologies can be stimulated to become both more opportunity-rich and more equitable, and for understanding the policy and practice challenges and dilemmas that have to be negotiated in the process.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Vocational Education and Training
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2024


  • equality
  • learning ecologies
  • post-16 transitions
  • Young people


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