PhD Studentship (South Coast DTP) New skills acquisitions over the life course

United Kingdom
Jun 22, 2017
Oct 02, 2017
Organization Type
University and College
Full Time
PhD Studentship (South Coast DTP) - New skills acquisitions over the life course Sociology, Social Policy & Criminology

Location: Highfield Campus

Salary:  £14553

Annual stipend of £14553 plus payment of programme fees

Closing Date:  Saturday 30 September 2017

Reference: 887117CC

N.B. Studentship must commence 1st October 2017

This advertisement may be withdrawn should a suitable candidate be identified.

Flexible careers? New skills acquisitions over the life course

A fully funded studentship awarded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) South Coast Doctoral Training Partnership (SCDTP)

Supervisory Team:

Prof Pauline Leonard (, Dr Rebecca Taylor

How easy is it to start a completely new career as we age? Many people fantasise about making a change and starting afresh in a new line of work, perhaps regretting choices made in their youth. If the UK is to compete effectively in the global economy, retraining, perhaps more than once, may be essential if the workforce is to possess the latest skills. In rapidly changing sectors such as the digital economy and the cultural and creative industries new talent is constantly required. This project will explore the benefits, challenges and barriers to retraining over the life course.

Research questions:

1. What are the benefits and challenges to reskilling and training for new careers over the life course? 

2. What are the financial, cultural and social barriers to retraining in later life? 

3. What challenges exist to reskilling within the digital economy and the creative and cultural industries? 

4. How can policy support flexible careers and new skills acquisition over the lifecourse?

There are strong policy drivers underpinning reskilling and retraining over the lifecourse. Perennial concerns about the impact of skill levels and shortages on the United Kingdom’s (UK) international economic competitiveness, productivity and social mobility have led successive governments to lift age limits and increase funding to support training schemes such as apprenticeships (DfES 2003; Fuller et al 2015). At the same time, there has been an escalation of ‘productive ageing’ discourses in neoliberal economies such as the UK due to the contraction of labour forces and heightened pressures on welfare benefits due to ‘global greying’ (Moulaert and Biggs 2012). These support the view that there are significant financial, health and well-being benefits to sustained working over the life course and into later life. However, contradictorily, evidence is emerging to suggest that there are powerful financial, cultural and social barriers to retraining ‘out of time’ (Leonard et al 2017). With particular skills shortages in digital technology and the cultural and creative industries, this project will engage directly with businesses to take a comparative case study approach to explore the challenges to retraining and starting new careers within these sectors.

Skills required of the PhD student:

- A good first degree in sociology, social policy, geography, education or cultural studies

- Interest in sociology of work; education and training; lifecourse approaches and ageing

- Abilities in social theory and qualitative methodologies


South Coast DTP Funding provides an annual maintenance grant (tax free) of £14553, plus payment of all programme fees.  Other funding available for SCDTP funded students can be found on the SCDTP website (

Funding is provided for 3 years full-time PhD study (pro-rata for part-time students).  Applications for 1+3 funding for students completing a Master's year prior to the commencement of PhD study are also welcome (details available at


For further information about this project, please contact the lead supervisor detailed above. 

For questions relating to the application procedure, or for more information about the SCDTP, please visit the SCDTP website or contact us at


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