Snakes and Ladders: Understanding Young People’s Transitions to Adulthood in contexts of poverty and disadvantage

The Centre for Policy Studies in Education, a University of Leeds Research Centre, is pleased to announce a new seminar series on young people, poverty and transitions to work.

This will address the changing nature of transitions into and out of the labour market under conditions of growing austerity and precarity. It will question dominant policy discourses about the alleged needs of young people by grounding the debate in the lived experiences of socio-economic disadvantage and deprivation.


Professor Shildrick will report on a series of studies conducted in Teesside (North East England) which explored young people’s transitions to adulthood in contexts of deprivation and poverty. The research participants were one hundred and eighty six ‘hard to reach’ young women and men who were growing up in some of England’s poorest neighbourhoods. Drawing upon these qualitative, longitudinal studies Professor Shildrick contends that young people’s transitions to work cannot be understood in isolation from other dimensions of their transitions (for example, housing, family and health). Furthermore, she argues that young people’s transitions must be understood within the historical and local context. This important research points to the significance of the ‘low pay, no pay’ cycle and in-work poverty, demonstrating how some groups of young people become trapped, churning between low paid jobs and welfare.  As rates of graduate unemployment and underemployment rise it is increasingly argued that these are conditions of life which are spreading to other less disadvantaged groups of young people. In concluding her talk, Professor Shildrick will report on some of the policy and practice challenges which arise from the research findings.


Professor Tracy Shildrick, Sociology and Social Policy, University of Leeds.

To RSVP please email

Coffee and tea will be served at 4:15 for a 4:30 start. A reception will follow the talk at 18:00 for the opportunity to network and continue the discussion informally.

Audio recordings and related documents from the series will be available after the event on the website

Location Details

Parkinson Building, Centenary Gallery.