TASO has commissioned the the Centre for Education and Youth (CfEY) and the Education Policy Institute (EPI) to carry out a new project looking at the existing evidence on what works to tackle inequalities within higher education (HE) in the context of employment and employability.

The project marks the beginning of TASO’s work in this area, after announcing its new Theme 3 (employment and employability) earlier this year. The decision to prioritise this aspect of the HE landscape came as a result of a robust prioritisation exercise which included consultation with a range of sector stakeholders. As a starting point for this new theme, we aim to understand existing evidence of what works to reduce employment and employability inequalities, and where gaps lie in the existing research. This will inform which interventions we prioritise for impact evaluation in future.

Working alongside CfEY and EPI, this project will consist of a rapid evidence review of relevant literature and data around equality gaps in graduate employability, progression to further study and employment.

Additionally, a stakeholder consultation will be carried out to gauge from the sector itself which interventions are currently being used to address inequalities in employment and employability and how they are being measured and evaluated.

“At TASO, we’re determined to understand how best to tackle inequalities at every stage of the student lifecycle. While there are many reasons to undertake study in HE, arguably one of the most significant motivations is HE’s potential to improve opportunities and outcomes in the workplace. This is also one of the key ways to measure the effectiveness of HE as a driver of social mobility. Therefore, understanding persisting inequalities in employment and employability in the HE context, and what is or isn’t working to address them, is hugely important, not just for TASO but for the entire sector. We’re delighted to have teamed up with two excellent organisations in CfEY and EPI, who bring a wealth of expertise and experience to the project.”

Zahra Boudalaoui-Buresi, Research Officer and project lead at TASO

“The Centre for Education and Youth believe society should ensure all young people receive the support they need to make a fulfilling transition to adulthood. As the move from Higher Education into employment is such a central part of this transition, we are excited to understand how education providers can improve opportunities and outcomes for young people in the workplace. We are especially enthused for our consultations, where we will capture current great practice from across the sector and understand the challenges faced by HE providers in detail. We are delighted to be partnered with TASO and EPI in pursuit of these insights.”

Baz Ramaiah, Associate and project lead at CfEY

“One of EPI’s core objectives is to reduce educational inequalities through the provision of objective, impartial, and independent research. The evidence shows that not only do these inequalities exist even before children start school and grow throughout students’ education, they also persist long after young people enter the labour market. Identifying the extent of these employment inequalities, their causes, and what works to address them is a critical step forward in ensuring all young people are able to secure the benefits of a high-quality education. We’re delighted to partner with CfEY and TASO to tackle these important evidence gaps.”

David Robinson, Director of Post-16 and Skills at EPI

CfEY and EPI were selected after an open call for partners. All applications were assessed by the TASO Research and Evaluation Team.

This project commences in December 2021. The final report of findings is due in April 2022.