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PhD Studentship - Employability Engagement and Support Provision and the Labour Market Transitions of Young People

The University of Edinburgh - School of Social & Political Science

Qualification Type: PhD, Integrated Masters / Doctorate
Location: Edinburgh
Funding for: UK Students, EU Students
Funding amount: £15,009 - please see advert
Hours: Full Time
Placed On: 4th February 2020
Closes: 14th April 2020

Key contact name: Jay Wiggan

Key contact email:

Project Details

Applications are invited for this project, which is based within the School of Social and Political Science in the Social Policy subject area.

The Scottish Government has rolled out a variety of employability initiatives intended to facilitate young people’s transition from school to employment. Despite recent progress in lowering youth unemployment, including in areas of high unemployment, challenges remain in sustaining transitions. Scottish Government employability services are often supplemented by employability support from third-sector organisations. It is not clear, however, whether Scotland’s multi-layered, multi-sectoral employability offer provides complementary support, addressing the different aspects of employability, or manifests as unnecessary and/or ineffective duplication. Nor is it clear how young people navigate options and services or how these feature in the decisions they make around preparing for work. There is a need for a better understanding of the variety and interactions of informal/formal (employability) provision, of the conceptualisation of employability that underpin services, and how the mosaic of provision is experienced by young people themselves.

Through a longitudinal qualitative case study of young people’s engagement with employability services in Clackmannanshire, this project will cast light on these issues. The findings will feed into a knowledge-exchange workshop with stakeholders to facilitate collaborative reflection on future employability provision in Clackmannanshire and Scotland.


Applicants must meet the following eligibility criteria

  • A good first degree (at least 2:1), preferably with a social science component and some training in qualitative research methods.
  • Demonstrate an interest in, and knowledge of, theories around unemployment and employability, and familiarity with developments in labour market and social security policy in the UK. Some knowledge of employability and skills programmes in Scotland would also be desirable.
  • Have a good grounding in qualitative research methods. Any prior experience of conducting semi-structured interviews and/or focus groups would be desirable.

Students must meet ESRC eligibility criteria. ESRC eligibility information can be found here*:

Award details

The scholarship is available as a +3 (PhD only) or a 1+3 (MSc and PhD) programme depending on prior research training.  This will be assessed as part of the recruitment process. The programme will commence in September 2020

The award includes:

  • An annual maintenance grant at the RCUK rate (in 2019/20 this is £15,009)
  • Fees at the standard Home rate

Other Information

Application and Selection

How to apply

  1. Register on GradHub,, and fill out EO data (this is a requirement of the application process)
  2. Complete and upload the prescribed list of required documentation to include:
  • Application form
  • Academic transcripts
  • Two References
  • CV (maximum of two pages)
  • A cover letter (maximum of one page) explaining your interest in the project and your suitability for it. This letter should be uploaded in a standalone document with a naming convention as follows *name/supervisor/institution/competition/date*

Selection process

Interviews will take place on Tuesday 5 May 2020.

All scholarship awards are subject to candidates successfully securing admission to a PhD programme within the University of Edinburgh’s Social Policy subject area in the School of Social and Political Science.

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