Work Matters: Re-thinking the Transformative Potential of Education and Work in the Lives of Young People in Care and Care Leavers’

  • Robbie GilliganEmail author
Part of the Children’s Well-Being: Indicators and Research book series (CHIR, volume 22)


The prospects for young people in care and care leavers in the worlds of education and work may often seem bleak. The challenges they face in education are widely covered in this book. In the world of work, the picture is also difficult for care leavers. Youth unemployment, generally, is a major challenge across the globe, with its risk greatest for marginalised groups such as care leavers. This conceptual chapter argues that efforts to improve educational outcomes for care experienced young people need rethinking. Current difficulties are not just a result of problems the young people ‘bring’ from their care histories; they may also relate to the nature of the education provision they encounter. Education systems may often lack sufficient vision and flexibility to properly ‘accommodate’ the needs of various marginalised groups including young people in care. Drawing on a range of research and policy evidence, the chapter calls for deeper engagement with the life-long learning model of education. It seeks less emphasis on normative timelines for educational attainment, much stronger integration of opportunities for work and education, and harnessing of the powerful educational potential of work experience in terms of building confidence, motivation and soft skills. A stronger focus on early work opportunities for young people in care can enhance not only educational but also employment prospects. Just as our thinking about timelines etc. needs to loosen up, so too do our understandings of ‘work’ and ‘education’. Work involves a much wider range of valuable activity beyond wage-based employment. Similarly, huge amounts of learning occur outside the classroom. The chapter explores the transformative potential of such fresh thinking for enhancing educational and work outcomes for young people in care and care leavers.


Out-of-home-care education work-experience outcomes Ireland 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Trinity College Dublin, The University of DublinCollege GreenDublin 2Ireland

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