Enhancing Employability Through Youth Training Schemes? The Experiences Of Non-Engaged Young People In Hong Kong

Thursday, July 17, 2014: 11:45 AM
Room: F205
Distributed Paper
Steven Sek-yum NGAI , Department of Social Work, Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong
The process of globalization, the rate of technological change, the convergence of information and communication technologies, and major changes in government policies are leading to the development of a “weightless” economy, to rapidly growing skill requirements, and to what some call the ”knowledge economy.” Certainly, the labor market is tilting toward extensive increases in the demand for higher skill levels and the labor demand for low skill levels is weakening. In this environment, young people are hit disproportionately hard, obscuring paths to adult statuses, identities, and activities. As such, many young people have been lost in the transition from school to work, with more and more of them not in education, training, and employment. This paper seeks to investigate the school-to-work experiences of non-engaged youth – young people aged 15-24 who do not participate in education, training, and employment. Based on data from focus groups involving 50 non-engaged young people in Hong Kong, it seeks to: 1) examine how these young people are being systematically propelled to the edges of conventional pathways to adulthood; and 2) assess the efficacy of governmental training schemes that aim to develop employability as a strategy for engaging this population. The paper concludes by outlining prospects for future policy development, focusing on gaps and weaknesses in current provision and practice. It is suggested that effective guidance to non-engaged young people must pay adequate attention to the social context within which the individual operates. Assumptions behind the government’s individualistic lifelong learning policy are called into question.

This paper has direct relevance to Theme II.3 “Youth Unemployment/Underemployment and Precarity” of the RC34 Sessions at the XVIII ISA World Congress of Sociology as more and more young people worldwide are now living in economic disadvantaged circumstances and facing problems in their school-to-work transition.