Postdoc Position at University of Cambridge

A new postdoc position in sustainable development is available at University of Cambridge. The deadline to apply is October 19, 2018.

Decent Work and Youth Livelihoods: Public Policy Challenges for Employment Creation in Sub-Saharan Africa (a Philomathia Social Sciences Research Project)

We are looking for a full time Research Associate to work as part of a new project funded by the Philomathia Social Sciences Research Programme at the University of Cambridge. The post holder will work under the supervision of Professor Bhaskar Vira in the Department of Geography, and Dame Barbara Stocking at Murray Edwards College.

This project will contribute to a major new cross University programme of enquiry into the Future of Work. The postholder will work on assessing the policy challenges in responding to the growing crisis of youth (un)employment, working poverty and livelihoods in three Sub-Saharan African countries. Sub-Saharan Africa is of particular interest due to the persistent rise in youth populations which is expected to continue in many countries until at least 2100. The potential for a so-called ‘demographic dividend’ is contingent upon meeting the challenge of finding meaningful work that enables people to make a living. Yet at present the highest levels of working poverty are in Sub-Saharan Africa. Globally, there is a clear recognition of the importance of how people make a living, with ‘full and productive employment and decent work for all’ being the cornerstone of Sustainable Development Goal 8. While this global priority is now enshrined in the SDG agenda, there are important questions about how this is translated and implemented at the national level, bearing in mind the role of the state, industry, and workers themselves. Developing locally and national appropriate employment strategies is a key public policy challenge across the Global South, and specifically in Sub-Saharan Africa. There is a risk that the demographic dividend might otherwise turn into the demographic nightmare of high youth unemployment and social unrest.

This research will involve desk reviews of relevant literature and policy documents; interviews with young people and policy makers; and analysis of secondary data. This project will be part of the expansion of an ambitious University-wide initiative to develop a programme of research on young people and work in low-income countries. The postholder will be expected to network across the University and beyond (with academic and non-academic partners) and to contribute to the wider goals of the Philomathia Social Sciences Research Programme.

We are seeking a postdoctoral researcher with experience in the social sciences, particularly Sociology, Political Science, Human Geography, Development Studies or a related field. We are especially interested in candidates who can demonstrate their ability to analyse secondary data and policy documents, and to conduct interviews and facilitate stakeholder dialogue, particularly in relation to the Global South. Knowledge of labour issues and debates in relation to work and employment in sub-Saharan Africa would provide a distinct advantage. We are also keen on individuals who share a commitment to interdisciplinary research, and are interested in contributing to the development of a larger programme of collaborative activity in this area.

Informal inquiries should be directed to Professor Bhaskar Vira by email,

Interviews will be held on 02 November 2018.

Fixed-term: The post is available immediately, for a three year fixed appointment.


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