Going straight into work from school: Young people’s hoped-for occupational possible selves


The latest (2016/17) destination figures for 18 year olds in England from the Department for Education (2018) showed that 22% of young people entered work directly following compulsory schooling; 6% started an apprenticeship; and the largest proportion (50%) continued on to university studies. The diversity of pathways that young people follow as part of their school to work transitions (STWT) is increasingly recognised as the reality for many young people operating within precarious labour markets across Europe. This paper presents a qualitative exploration of young people’s accounts of their future hoped-for occupational possible selves (HOPS) in the period just prior to making the transition from education to employment for the first time. Findings are presented from a group of young people in the UK who made th e decision to enter employment directly following completion of compulsory schooling at age 18 years, rather than following the more dominant route of university to employment. The paper outlines the diversity of HOPS expressed by the young peopl e in the study (in the form of drawings and talk) as well as how young people perceived the reactions of others’ to these drawings. The paper applies the research findings to a range of practical applications for Work and Organizational Psychology practitioners and those working with young people in different capacities.


possible selves, school to work transitions, youth, careers counselling

How to Cite

Parry, E., (2020) “Going straight into work from school: Young people’s hoped-for occupational possible selves”, EWOP in Practice 12(1), 56–74. doi: https://doi.org/10.21825/ewopinpractice.87122







Emma Parry (University of Sheffield)



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