Human capital is a life-long process and a key driver of family income and economic wellbeing. The employment and earnings trajectories that individuals face over their adult lives are intimately linked to the formation of skills during childhood and the continuing investment in skills later in life. But they also depend on labour market conditions and institutions. Our research in this area seeks to advance understanding of the process of human capital formation, how it relates to socio-economic background, its role in driving family income and economic inequality. We investigate the importance of family, education and labour market policies in promoting the accumulation of skills and mitigating the consequences of low skills and low pay, and consider how labour market conditions and institutions shape the relationship between human capital, productivity and wages.