‘At the end of the course, where is their progression’? The paradox of progression for former so-called not in education, employment, and training youth

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It is often presumed that when students complete a particular entry course at college, the acquisition of that qualification should grant access to the next, higher level of study. There is a dearth of academic research on the actual progression outcomes for so-called not in education, employment, and training (NEET) and disengaged youth, enrolled on an employability course. Purportedly, the employability qualifications should enable students to progress towards higher levels of study, but do they? Adopting a case study approach, research was conducted with seven tutors and 26 students enrolled on the 2013 and 2014 Level 1 Achieving Skills Course, an employability course delivered at The Site, a FE college in the East Region. The college’s database was also accessed to review success and progression outcomes. Highlighting discrepancy and controversy, key findings revealed that most participants were unable to progress onto higher level courses at The Site. Instead, they were recorded as either NEET or destination unknown. This paper reveals key factors impeding progression and the reification of NEET identities on this course. It calls for political debate and a sharper inspection into the quality of re-engagement provisions for so-called NEET and disengaged youth.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)196-212
Number of pages17
JournalPower and Education
Issue number2
Early online date6 Sep 2023
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2024


  • NEET (not in education, employment or training)
  • further education (FE)
  • Progression
  • further education
  • Not in education, employment, and training
  • employability qualification
  • exclusion
  • progression

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