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Strengthening precarity? A critical analysis of education and training programmes in the UK (Scotland)

Lesley Doyle (School of Education, University of Glasgow, Glasgow, UK)
Geng Wang (School of Education, Tianjin University, Tianjin, China)

Education + Training

ISSN: 0040-0912

Article publication date: 15 December 2022

Issue publication date: 3 February 2023




The aim of this paper is to examine the provision of education and training programmes for young people in Scotland for work and lifelong learning within the context of the skills ecosystem approach adopted by the Scottish Government.


The research drew upon findings from a large EU-funded multi-country project which ran from 2016 to 2019 that comprised experiences and perspectives with young people who were affected by these programmes as well as the managers and practitioners tasked with delivering them. The work was conducted in Aberdeenshire and Glasgow and included in-depth interviews with young people and programme managers and practitioners.


The research showed that there is a gap between the rhetoric of the intentions of the policies and how those involved at ground level experience the programmes enacted under policies which draw on a skill ecosystem approach. Whilst there was public funding for training, it was not clear from the enactment of the relevant policies where employers' responsibilities lie. Locating the findings in the skills ecosystem model highlights the weak engagement of employers in their pivotal role in the education and training system and the resulting increased precarity of the young people's futures.

Research limitations/implications

The paper sheds light on the shape of education and training provision in Scotland, the range of participants engaged in the provision and the commitment of providers in comparison to policy language and intentions.


Through the skill ecosystem approach, this paper draws together policy narratives and the experiences of young people.



Doyle, L. and Wang, G. (2023), "Strengthening precarity? A critical analysis of education and training programmes in the UK (Scotland)", Education + Training, Vol. 65 No. 1, pp. 74-87.



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