PhD Education - The career decision-making processes of young women and men on apprenticeships at different educational levels.

Updated: 5 months ago
Location: Southampton, ENGLAND
Deadline: 12 Jul 2019

Southampton Education School


Highfield Campus

Closing Date:  

Friday 12 July 2019



The career decision-making processes of young women and men on apprenticeships at different educational levels. 

University of Southampton, School of Education, Southampton, UK


Dr. Michaela Brockmann 

Dr. Jenny Byrne

Funding Notes:  £7000 per annum for 3 years (full-time).  £3500 per annum for 6 years (part-time).  Funding will applied to tuition fees.  Any remaining funding (if applicable) will be paid as a maintenance stipend.

Project Description

Apprenticeships have been a major vehicle in UK government initiatives to augment skill levels in the drive for global competitiveness. Yet, in the context of ‘the normalisation of university’, with academic study deemed the ‘gold standard’, the overall status of apprenticeship has been poor and participation among school leavers low, underpinned by assumptions about ‘non-academic’ learners. While there has been an increase in higher and degree apprenticeships, there are concerns that young people from lower income families predominantly end up in poor quality programmes. At the same time, gender segregation in apprenticeship is well-known, with women being concentrated in (often poor quality) schemes in the service sector, while men dominate programmes in the traditional craft sectors. Whilst some of the factors in career decision-making, such as the role of careers advice and guidance, are well documented, there is little in-depth understanding of young people’s experiences of their school-to-work transition in the context of an increasingly diversified landscape of post-compulsory education.

The project enables a suitably qualified doctoral student to examine the career decision-making processes of young men and women on apprenticeships at different levels (from Level 2 to degree apprenticeships). Using biographical methods the successful candidate will be contributing to an enhanced understanding of individual perspectives in the context of a diversified institutional landscape in post-compulsory education, with a particular focus on classed and gendered inequalities. There is scope for developing the research design, for example, in terms of the selection of the apprenticeship route(s), using complementary methods, and the adoption of theoretical constructs, including discourse, identity, and social reproduction

Candidates must have a bachelor’s degree with upper second class honours, and a good (minimum merit) Master’s degree in Education or other social sciences discipline. You must have a strong interest in apprenticeship and the sociology of education as well as a good understanding of in-depth qualitative research and the capability to develop strong skills in the biographic-interpretive method.

Details on how to apply are available from  

Please apply for the PhD Education, specifying this project title.  Please also email, to indicate that you are applying for this funded project.

Informal enquiries may be made to Dr Michaela Brockmann (email ).


Fuller, A. and Unwin, L. (2014) ‘The challenges facing young women in apprenticeships’, in I. Schoon and J.S. Eccles (eds) Gender Difference in Aspiration and Attainment, Cambridge: CUP.

Ryan, L. and Lorinc, M. (2018) ‘Perceptions, prejudices and possibilities: young people narrating apprenticeship experiences’, British Journal of Sociology of Education, 39 (6): 762-777.

Wengraf, T. (2001) Qualitative Research Interviewing. London: Sage.

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