Swift, John (2009) Education and Employment: the influences on young people’s career decision making in Antigua and the UK. Doctoral thesis, University of Huddersfield.

The thesis looks at the issue of career choice and decision-making through the eyes of young people in Antigua and in England. It provides an account of their views and attitudes in relation to various jobs and careers and the factors which have influenced these views. It asks young people about the way in which they are making their career choices and the sort of factors which influence them into making these choices.

The study begins by first providing a brief overview of education and training in both countries and the way in which education is presented in both countries as being essential for economic growth. At the centre of this study is the realisation that after many years of vocational initiatives young people still appear to be reluctant to enter vocational courses and or careers. Nonetheless, from a socio/economic viewpoint, various governments over the last quarter of a century, at least, have placed much emphasis on the relationship between education and the country’s economic performance.

The three specific aims of the study are:
• To explore young peoples’ employment aspirations in Antigua and the UK
• To investigate young people’s attitudes towards jobs and careers
• To evaluate the various influences on their career choices.

Since vocational education prepares individuals for gainful employment, the participants were therefore questioned about their career aspirations; particularly in terms of whether they are considering academic or vocational type courses or careers. In order to ascertain if the participants had made informed choices/decisions regarding subjects and career choices it was necessary to look at the types of information with which they are provided as well as the sources of the information. The research also questions whether the information provided is adequate and without bias.

Conducted within two schools and two colleges in the North of England and two schools and a college in the Caribbean island of Antigua, the study employs the use of both Questionnaires and interviews so as to obtain a rich texture of data. However, as it seeks to give a voice to the young people themselves, it leans more towards the qualitative side of the interview data.

The study reveals that the term vocational is not widely understood and attributes this to the narrow approach of careers education and guidance being provided to young people. Thus, it raises questions of how well young people are being prepared for the world of work. It however has found that young people do not make their choices based upon whether the career is a vocational or academic career. They are more concerned about the money and status which a career or job earns them and they are more likely to take advice from parents, siblings and even friends than from careers advisers.

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