From education to employment?

A new research programme on young people in Jordan and Lebanon in the context of protracted displacement.

Projects awarded by the Economic and Social Research Council (GCRF),Inequalities and skills acquisition in young people, and the International Development Research Centre (IDRC), Canada, the MENA Youth Consortium

In displacement settings, what shapes the trajectories of young people from education into employment? This is the main question we ask in this programme which is a collaboration between The Centre for Development and Emergency Practice (CENDEP) at Oxford Brookes University and the Centre for Lebanese Studies (CLS) at the Lebanese American University.

We seek to analyse the trajectories from education to employment of young refugees and nationals in different regions of Lebanon and Jordan. Our starting definition of young people is the age group between 15 and 29 years old in line with official definitions. However, we aim to develop a more qualitative understanding of young people through the project. We will work with young Palestinian refugees, young Syrian refugees and young Lebanese and Jordanians. 

In Lebanon and Jordan, refugees cannot automatically work: formal work can only be accessed through a work permit, and there is a high degree of separation between poorer groups of Syrians, Palestinians and Jordanians/Lebanese. Hence, trajectories from education and into employment must be understood in complex interaction with political, economic and social development at local, national and global scales. 

Currently, there is limited research examining the relationship between education and employment prospects for young people in the context of protracted displacement and conflict, particularly from the perspective of youths themselves. The project seeks to rectify this gap in knowledge by focusing on how young people move from education to employment.

With an interdisciplinary team of researchers and practitioners, we will be examining how education opportunities and experiences of refugees affect and shape pathways into employment and unemployment. Jordan and Lebanon are highly relevant examples because the trajectories of refugees in varying displacement contexts may be juxtaposed with trajectories of Jordanian and Lebanese young people who may have experienced exclusion or marginalization in the labour market, but nevertheless have a legal status that allows formal employment.

We will analyse individual’s trajectories by understanding how young people navigate uncertainty and strategise according to the possibilities they identify and may be able to negotiate. In order to capture power relations and the understanding of constraints that people may face, we adopt an intersectional analysis to understand how the role of social statuses and identities such as gender and class impact trajectories in the local and national contexts. We combine these individual narratives of young people’s families and how their histories interact with place-based and institutional narratives. The young people we interview will be understood in the context of their family histories, including where their families came from, their migration histories, and education and employment histories of parents and other family members.

Once the narratives have been collected and transcribed, we will design profiles of both typical and unusual trajectories from education to (un)employment. From that analysis, we will formulate typical profiles that represent some of the main trends we have identified in the material. When the profiles have been formulated, the young research participants will be invited to focus group workshops (FGW) to discuss and nuance the profiles and to add additional layers of explanation in a process we term ‘collaborative analysis’. The FGW will be run in collaboration with our local collaborating organisations. The profile-trajectories will become part of an archive jointly managed by the partners and used to create new programmes for young people. Finally, research participants will be invited to come together and produce a play, an exhibition and other artistic expressions based on the material.

This blog post marks the beginning of our dissemination from the project. Please get in touch and follow us on: 

We look forward to engaging with you

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