Project Description

Changes in young people’s early transitions post-16

This project examines how young people’s early transitions into the labour market have changed between cohorts born in 1958, 1970, 1980, and 1990. We use sequence analysis to characterise transition patterns and identify three distinct pathways in all cohorts. An ‘Entering the Labour Market’ group has declined significantly in size (from 91% in the earliest cohort, to 37% in the most recent), an ‘Accumulating Human Capital’ group has grown in its place (from 4% to 51%), but also a ‘Potential Cause for Concern’ group has grown alongside this, reaching 12% in the most recent cohort. These trends appear to reflect behavioural rather than compositional changes. Females and those who are from a non-white ethnic background have gone from being more likely to be in the ‘Potential Cause for Concern’ group, to being less likely. Coming from a low socio-economic status background has remained a strong predictor of having a transition of this type across all four cohorts. These early transitions are important, not least since we show they are highly predictive of longer-term outcomes.


Anders, J. and Dorsett, R. (2017) What young English people do once they reach school-leaving age: A cross-cohort comparison for the last 30 years.  Longitudinal and Life Course Studies 8(1): 75-103.  PDF

Anders, J. and Dorsett, R. (2015) How have young people’s routes from school to work changed over the past 30 years?  NIESR blog post PDF

Speckesser, S., Anders, J., De Coulon, A., Dorsett, R., Espinoza Bustos, H., Kirchner Sala, L. and Nafilyan, V. (2015) Empirical research on Youth Transitions to, and within the labour market.  Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) Research Paper 255. PDF


Department for Business, Innovation and Skills


Part of a larger project undertaken by the Institute for Employment Studies, King’s College London and the National Institute of Economic and Social Research