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The project is a two-year study funded by the British Academy/Leverhulme Trust. This research will investigate the transition from school to work among a sample of tertiary graduates who are currently completing their one-year mandatory national service programme.

The National Service scheme deploys tertiary graduates to priority areas within the public and private sectors to support developmental activities. A key aim of the scheme is to remove some of the bottlenecks in the labour market by providing an equal level of job-related experience for tertiary graduates. There is however no evidence of how successful or equitable this programme has been in supporting graduates into work after completion of the one-year service. The project will examine:

  • To what extent pre-labour market experience in the form of paid and unpaid internships and other labour market experience supports employment outcomes and minimizes unemployment durations post national service;
  • The effectiveness of the experience gained from the one-year national service in preparing graduates for the labour market;
  • Whether the effectiveness of this experience differs by individual circumstance, family background and gender;
  • The overall effectiveness of the one-year national service in ensuring better labour market outcomes for graduates. 

The overall effectiveness of the one-year national service in ensuring better labour market outcomes for graduates. 

The research team will use administrative data from the National Service Secretariat to identify the establishments where graduates have been placed through the national service scheme and then survey a sample of graduates enrolled as national service personnel. Two rounds of survey will be conducted - the first stage survey will focus on current lives including educational attainment, degree classification and programme of study, gender and family background. Data for this round will be collected when graduates are still completing their national service. The second stage will collect detailed information on employment including status, duration of any unemployment, job search processes and earnings. This will be collected after the official end of the national service. Information from these two surveys will enable us to gain an understanding of the influence of different factors on graduate employment and the impact of the National Service programme on transitions into the labour market.