Reid, James (2016) Engaging with childhood: student placements and the employability agenda. Childhood: A journal of global child research, 23 (2). pp. 286-300. ISSN 0907-5682

Employability is a particular organising narrative within the global, neoliberal economic discourse, with increasing relevance across different educational contexts. For universities in the UK, student employability, that is the readiness of students to gain and maintain employment and contribute to the economy, is a significant feature of accountability with employability outcomes increasingly used by students in making their decision of which university to attend. Yet little attention is paid to the organizing power of the employability agenda and to university students’ participation in that agenda apart from focussing on knowledge and skills relevant to gain employment. This is particularly concerning in university programmes that develop professionals who work with children.
Placement, gaining knowledge, skills and experience in the places where children and young people are found, is a common aspect of employability being embedded within programme curricula. This article explores the organising power of the employability agenda for children and young people in a context of university placements. Focused on student experiences on placement in primary school settings in the north of England analysis considers students’ engagement with their own learning and the children who are essential to that learning.

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