Reid, James (2013) Power and Employability: student's experiences of powerlessness. In: Proceedings of the 2013 Placement and Employability Professionals’ Conference. ASET, pp. 147-161. ISBN 9780956455994

This paper reports on the findings from a Higher Education Academy funded project (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.

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