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Youth in transitions – a qualitative longitudinal study on education and career trajectories among young people in rural Sweden (2015-2024)

Research project Youth transitions from education to work and within education have become more uncertain, prolonged and non-linear than ever before. One central reason for this is that the entrance criteria for the labour market have become more demanding due to increasing skills requirements, rising expectations for higher and formal education, and collapsing demand for unskilled manual workers. Worldwide, this transformation has weakened the chances of a steady job, even for the most educated youngsters.

This qualitative longitudinal project explores how young people from rural environments in Norrland navigate their way in education and the labourmarket over time.

Head of project

Project overview

Project period:

2021-01-01 2024-11-30

Participating departments and units at Umeå University

Department of Applied Educational Science Research, Department of Geography

Research area

Educational sciences

External funding

Swedish Research Council

Project description

This project explores how young people from rural environments navigate their way in education and the labourmarket over time. It has a biographical life course approach with influences from narrative theory and draws on a series of biographical interviews with individuals who originate from three Swedish rural environments, covering a period of 10 years. The aim is to address the urgent problem of youths’ extended and uncertain transitions from school to work/higher education in contexts where transitions tend to be particularly uncertain and problematic – in rural places where the local labour market is limited, and where there are few, if any, secondary and/or higher education institutions. The project problematizes young rural people as both being subject to and co-actors in an accelerating uneven economic development between geographical regions in Sweden. They may reinforce, in both the short and longer term, the on-going polarization between rural and urban areas, or, alternatively, they may contribute to reversing or resisting this major trend through their agency. 

In the project we collaborate with researchers from Norway, Finland and Denmark who have similar longitudinal projects following young people in rural areas. Together, we have contact with young people raised in ten rural regions, geographically spread across the Nordic region. The regions differ in terms of population, geographic location and the character of the local labor market, but h are categorized as "rural" in each country. The collaboration gives us the opportunity to compare longitudinal data between the countries. We look at the youths' transitions between education and work, at social relations and issues of well-being, and at migration patterns with focus on common patterns and differences. An underlying thesis is that national education/labour market/ and rural policies are important for young people's transitions and migration patterns, including their lived experiences of the transitions, and this is why comparisons between the Nordic countries are important. 



External funding

Latest update: 2022-11-17