Supporting Disadvantaged Young People into Work: Insights from the Capability Approach

Valerie Egdell*, Ronald Mcquaid

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Citations (Scopus)


The Capability Approach (CA) offers a perspective on the employment activation of young people that is concerned with their freedom to make choices that they value rather than focusing solely on outcomes, such as having to take any job. It incorporates empowerment and the individual and external conversion factors that influence the conversion of resources into functionings for young people, such as getting a job that they value. This article considers the implications of using the CA as a lens for analyzing youth activation polices. A more capability informed approach to employment activation would not measure success solely by the transition into work, but rather by whether it has improved the young person's capabilities, and might focus, for example, on more sustainable and valued careers and develop individuals' freedom of choice in the labour market. Using data from two UK case studies of third sector organizations that support young people into work, it explores these issues empirically, including the extent to which these employment activation programmes, in their current form, can enhance the capabilities of beneficiaries. Conclusions on the implications of a CA for employment activation are made.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-18
Number of pages18
JournalSocial Policy and Administration
Issue number1
Early online date29 Dec 2014
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2016
Externally publishedYes


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