The aim of my thesis is to explore if policy aims are being met in helping young people classed as MCMC into positive destinations, with an emphasis on those from BME backgrounds.
Labelling of young people as ‘pre-NEET’ or requiring ‘More Choice, More Chances’, MCMC for short has gained currency in recent years as a result of a moral panic fuelled by political parties such as Labour and now the Conservative and Liberal Democrats drive to tackle the perceived disaffection of young people who have been identified as ‘at risk’ of social exclusion.
My interest in young people stems from extensive experience of working with young people in formal and informal education setting. I started my career in education as a lecturer in further education in 2005, teaching business administration and information technology to a range of students. In 2007, the majority of my classes were with asylum seeker young people and adults. After a brief teaching career, I returned to complete my Masters in Education. My dissertation explored the delivery of employability programmes using a multi-agency approach with schools, further education colleges, welfare educational services and the voluntary sector. I did an internship with a welfare provider, working in business development, and chain supply management.
As I was completing the MEd, the political scene was transitioning from Labour to Conservative and Liberal Democrats. The previous youth employability schemes such as the Flexible New Deal changed form to the Work Programme. Through my work in the further education sector and welfare organisations, I became aware of how those that were classed as socially excluded from society (out of education, employment or training) were pathologised by the very system that was to empower them. I saw how funds were implemented along the supply chain to the programme delivery providers. More was siphoned off as administration costs to the pitiful remainder which was used to deliver programmes using a ‘black box approach’ which was in reality a tick box exercise used to ensure people attended in order to access their giros.
I returned to higher education to further explore my own role as part of an epistemic community (Focault, 1972) that represented those labelled ‘at risk’ of social exclusion as problematic and sought to devise solutions to their problems.
I became actively engaged in local politics, actively campaigning and listening to people from all areas across Govan in Glasgow. This was on the advice of one of my supervisors who strongly recommended that a strong political stance or understanding was required to undertake a doctoral programme. This led me to campaign for candidates in the European Elections and run a pro-independence campaign for the independence referendum and also get involved in going through the internal vetting system to attain approved parliamentary candidate status. It fed into the disquiet I felt of how everything around me was ‘unitised’, and outcome based on social or economic measures.
Along this political journey, I started my journey as a PhD Researcher. Social exclusion and young people had played a large role in my MEd study and I wanted to deconstruct it further to explore how the young people were identified by schools and other institutions as falling into the ‘pre-NEET/MCMC category.
The contribution that I am making to the body of knowledge draws on the analysis and findings at the schools and youth work organisations where the research took place with young people, teachers and youth workers.
This is the third year the seminar series has been organised by the Doctoral students in the School of Education and my second time at organising these. The focus of the series this year is around ‘Research Journeys and Destinations’ and is to create informal opportunities for staff as well as students to share their research across the Schools in a supportive environment.
I am currently a student representative on the School of Education’s Research and Enterprise Forum, and was previously a student representative on the Subject Development Group.