Prof Ewart Keep’s 2021 David Raffe Memorial Lecture – video posted:

Updated November 24, 2021

“Some thoughts on transitions from learning to earning and on the wider relationship between education and the labour market”

We are pleased to announce the release of the video of the 2021 David Raffe Memorial Lecture, by Ewart Keep, emeritus professor in Education, Training and Skills at the Department of Education, Oxford University, which he delivered on Wednesday 3rd November 2021. The video can be found here: (opens in new tab) and the references for the studies he cites are below – please scroll down.

headshot of Prof Ewart Keep

The lecture was supported by Moray House School of Education and Sport, and chaired by Professor Richard Andrews, Head of School. Angela Gardner, editor of Informed Scotland, the Learning and Skills Intelligence digest, led the Q&A session. His lecture explored two inter-linked topics.  The first is the process of transitions from learning to earning for young people across the UK.  The second is the issues that are associated with efforts to more closely align the outputs of the education and training system with the changing demands of individual employers.  The lecture argued that policy makers and practitioners are likely to face major challenges in trying to improve outcomes in both these policy fields. 

This was the fourth annual memorial lecture in honour of the late David Raffe, Professor of Sociology of Education and Director of the Centre for Educational Sociology at the University of Edinburgh The topic of this year’s lecture reflected David’s interest and research in transitions from education to the labour market and in the nature and meaning of vocational education and training and its relationship with academic learning.

Professor Keep has researched and written on the relationship between skills and economic performance, managerial attitudes towards investing in skills, qualifications reform, the youth labour market, adult and lifelong learning, and skills policy formation and enactment across the four UK nations. He is currently managing an ESRC-funded project on NEETs (those not in education, employment or training) in the UK, as part of a wider European project on NEETs.

He has served on major committees of the Scottish Funding Council and the Higher Education Funding Councils of England and of Wales. He is currently a member of the Scottish Government’s Labour Market Strategy Group and has been advisor to a range of government departments and units in the UK and internationally as well as advising the OECD, and various professional bodies and think tanks. 

References for the 2021 David Raffe Memorial Lecture by Ewart Keep

BiBB Occupations Study: for overview see

City and Guilds (2021) Level 2 attainment and the review of Post-16 qualifications.

JP Morgan Foundation/CIPD (2017) People Skills:  Building ambition and HR capability in small UK firms

(Raffo), Lupton, Thomson, Velthuis and Unwin (2021) Moving on from initial GCSE ‘failure’: Post-16 transitions for ‘lower attainers’ and why the English education system must do better Final Report February 2021

Quintini, G., Martin, J.P., and Martin, S. (2007) The changing nature of the school-to-work transition process in OECD countries. WDA-HSG Discussion Paper Series on Demographic Issues, No. 2007/2, University of St. Gallen, Switzerland

Schoon, I. and Lyons-Amos, M. (2016). Diverse pathways in becoming an adult: the role of structure, agency and context. Research in Social Stratification and Mobility. ISSN 02765624.

Symonds, W. C., Schwartz, R. B., and Ferguson, R. (2011) Pathways to Prosperity: Meeting the Challenge of Preparing Young Americans for the 21st Century. Report issued by the Pathways to Prosperity Project, Harvard University, Harvard Graduate School of Education, Boston. Mass

Precarious Pathways project: project website

See also project report Purcell, K., Elias, P., Green, A., Mizen, P., Simms, M., Whiteside, N., Wilson, D., Robertson, A., Tzanakou, C. 2017. Present Tense, Future Imperfect? – Young people’s pathways into work, Coventry: Warwick University, Institute of Employment Research.

SES (2018) Skills and Employment Survey

See also Scottish Employers Skills Survey 2020

UKCES (2017) The Youth Inquiry Employers’ perspectives on tackling youth unemployment.