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Education, Training and Skills

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IER has an extensive track record of undertaking research on the provision of skills and training - and its link to the labour market - both in the UK and internationally. IER’s research uses a range of methods to explore issues related to, amongst others, the returns to education and training (for both individuals and employers), the operation of apprenticeship programmes, programme evaluation, the development new of technologies to deliver skills training, the measurement and classification of skills, and the future development of vocational education and training.

An important element of IER’s research on education, training, and skills has been Futuretrack. This is the most extensive longitudinal study examining the relationship between higher education, career decision-making and labour market trends ever conducted in the UK. It is led by Professors Kate Purcell and Peter Elias. Futuretrack followed people who applied for an undergraduate degree course in the UK in 2005/06 at various stages of their progression through to around ten years after completing their degree.

IER’s research on education training and skills has been funded by a wide range of organisations including the UK Department for Education, Nuffield Foundation, Edge Foundation, Gatsby Foundation, Cedefop, OECD and the International Labour Organization.

Research areas

  • Apprenticeships and work-based learning
  • Futuretrack
  • Graduate labour market
  • Higher Education
  • Lifelong learning
  • Vocational Education & Training


The representativeness of apprenticeship trailblazers, Gatsby Foundation (2022).

Apprenticeships & technical education data and evidence review; The Carreers & Enterprise Company (2021-2022).

Development of an App to estimate the costs, payback and returns to employers from investing in apprenticeships; The Gatsby Charitable Foundation (2021).

Apprenticeships with the benefit of hindsight; Gatsby Foundation (2021).

Future proof apprenticeships; The Co-Operative Group (2020).

To further our understanding of how employers set pay for apprentices; The Low Pay Commission (2020).

Covid 19 - Employer incentives for apprenticeships: Review of evidence; Skills Development Scotland (2020).

The Impact of Accountancy Apprenticeships; Kaplan (2019 - 2020).

Apprenticeships Funding Policy Survey; Department for Education (2019).

Graduate labour market and higher education, Futuretrack

Degrees of Advantage? A longer-term investigation of the careers of UK graduates (Futuretrack); The Nuffield Foundation (2018 - 2021).

Study on the wider benefits of completing a degree; Department for Education (2018 - 2021).

Participation in paid, unpaid and 'hidden' internships at six months after graduation: are some graduates excluded?; SRHE (2018 - 2019).

Literature review of employability programmes and work placements in Higher Education; Department for Education (2019).

Graduate labour market transitions in the UK and Italy; (2018).

LEGACY. Delivering Valid Measures of Learning Gain; HEFCE (2016 - 2018).

Post education job and career choices; Department for Education (2018).


The impact of AI and automation on the supply and demand of non-cognitive skills; The Nuffield Foundation (2021 – 2025).

Supporting Thematic Country Reviews On Upskilling Pathways For Low Skilled Adults; CEDEFOP (2021 –2023).

UK Prosperity Fund- Skills for Prosperity Programme Kenya; Department for International Development (2021 – 2023).

The engineering workforce - current and future challenges, and opportunities to transform; EngineeringUK (2021).

Skills report for Sheffield City Region; Sheffield City Region (2021).

Identification of factors affecting successful outcomes in the DDU-GKY Indian skills programme for unemployed young people; ESRC (2018 - 2020).

Skills (continued)

Alternative Provision Workforce Research; Department for Education; (2019 -2020).

Adult skills - who gets invested in and how has this changed over time?; Social Mobility Commission (2017 - 2018).

Gearing Up for STEM: Skills STEM Strategy and Action Plan; Thames Valley Berkshire; Adviza; (2016 - 2018).

SEND and Post-16 Provision for Employment; Department for Education. (2018).

The changing nature and role of vocational education and training in Europe; CEDEFOP (2015 - 2018).

Evaluation of an employer-led joint investment strategy; CITB (2014 -18).