The land of Narnia or just the back of the wardrobe? What research tells us about the real world of work for young people

Year: 2006

Author: Smith, Erica

Type of paper: Refereed paper

This paper challenges many assumptions made about the nature of entry into working life. Using the findings of the author's national research projects carried out over a period of eight years, as well as labour market data, the paper shows that the majority of young people have a realistic view of the labour market, hold sufficient skills to succeed, and are able to select from a range of jobs; transition to full-time working life is effected seamlessly over a period of several years with no major difficulties. 'The world of work', rather than being a strange land, difficult to enter, where battles are fought and special guides are needed, is a familiar and navigable place to young people; they need no magic shields, swords and arrows to cope with it. The real danger in the fear of the White Witch is the effects that the false fear may have upon school policies and practices. School curriculum is constantly being challenged and sometimes amended at the behest of lobby groups and politicians to mould young people better for the supposed 'needs of the workplace'; the papers argues that this is not just dangerous but also unnecessary.