Reid, James (2013) Problematising Employability: are the views of children and young people ignored? In: ASET Conference 2013, 3rd-5th September 2013, Greenwich, UK. (Unpublished)

This paper reports on the findings from a Higher Education Academy funded programme (January 2012 – April 2013) entitled ‘developing a variety of approaches to work placement to enhance knowledge and skills for employability’ which focused on three different approaches to undergraduate students’ experience of placement in schools during the second year of their studies. The paper posits a neoliberal presence in higher education. Predominant themes from the data include concerns about the influence of external obligations in shaping practice learning and consequently the importance of peer support in enabling learning and in enhancing employability. External obligations foster a credentialist approach, where students seek advantage over others by having an opportunity that enables them to foreground ‘desirable’ skills, competence and personal attributes (Tomlinson 2008), and relegates learning, authority and autonomy, thus raising concern of employability as a political technology. This also means that students lack power and, in this work placement context, the voice of the end user, the pupil is silent. Findings suggest that collegiality is helpful in enabling students to work within a more holistic notion of employability. Social in this context is therefore focussed on relationships and the space to work with peers in an environment that fosters sharing experience, collaboration, and is a counter to more individualistic approaches to relationship and labour.

Those attending the paper session will be asked to think about normalising policies and practices and to articulate ways in which a more holistic approach to employability may be developed. This includes consideration of whether or not the student and end user have a role in defining what is meant by ‘employability’.

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