How Do Young People Experience the School-To-Work Transition in Post-Conflict Transition Economies?

Lead Research Organisation: Cardiff University
Department Name: Sch of Social Sciences


This project will explore the experiences and livelihoods of young people (18-25) in
two post-conflict transition economies in the process of transitioning from school to work.
There is growing concern surrounding the situation of youth unemployment and
underemployment globally, due to the prioritisation of SDG 4 Quality Education and SDG8
Decent Work and Economic Growth in the UN SDGs. The period in which a young person
takes between finishing school and entering primary-sector employment is referred to as the
school-to-work transition, however this theory does not accurately represent the complexity of
youth livelihoods and the transition to adulthood. The livelihoods of young people across the
world are shaped by diverse and complex sociocultural contexts which are inextricably
interconnected, in which a young person's social capital and personal networks play an
important role in their socioeconomic status and stability. Unemployment and
underemployment have a life-long scarring effect on a person's labour market trajectory,
representing a loss of productive resources and human capital. This topic is of particular
relevance due to the ongoing EU ascension plans of Bosnia-Herzegovina and Kosovo, and
the subsequent increased migration in pursuit of education and employment within the EU
(Koneska, 2016). Understanding the school-to-work transition is vital in achieving SDG4
Quality Education and SDG8 Decent Work and Economic Growth, as it is an important
indicator of both the strength of a countries education system, and the macroeconomic
conditions of the labour market that absorbs them.
This project proposes a comparative analysis of the school-to-work transition in Bosnia
and Herzegovina and Kosovo, two former-Yugoslav countries who faced severe conflict
following the collapse of Yugoslavia. These countries suffer from a double-edged sword where
both democratization and economic transition run parallel to post-conflict reconciliation and
reconstruction, all which have left youth in these regions disengaged and underemployed
(Koneska, 2012). The analysis of different national experiences offers two main benefits; the
capacity to extend existing evidence on key issues such as school to work preparation
programmes, and the observations of differences between neighbouring countries providing
insight into effective policy interventions. There is a current gap in research surrounding labour
market transitions in post-conflict transition economies, so existing literature is drawn from
separate fields of post-conflict studies (Hughes & Pupavac, 2005; The World Bank, 2007;
Baraka & Zyck, 2009) and transition economics.
This project aims to answer three key questions:
1. How do young people in transition/post-conflict economies countries such as Bosnia-
Herzegovina and Kosovo experience the school-to-work transition?
Georgina Whiteman PhD Proposal
2. How do young people in transition/post-conflict economies such as Bosnia-
Herzegovina and Kosovo articulate school-to-work 'success' and what do they
consider to be key features of such 'success'?
3. How do social and human capital act as barriers or enablers of school-to-work
transition for young people in post conflict countries and/or transition economies?


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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
ES/P00069X/1 01/10/2017 30/09/2027
2435317 Studentship ES/P00069X/1 01/10/2020 30/09/2024 Georgina Mary WHITEMAN