02 SES 14 A, Ethnicity and Migration
In the EU, and indeed globally, the route to economic competitiveness is said to arise from the development of a knowledge economy. Education policies frequently emphasise the need to prepare young people for the putative fourth industrial revolution, enabling them to fully mobilise their talents, contribute to wider society and avoid social exclusion. Such notions have become a hegemonic feature of international policy debates. In this context VET has been depicted as integral to economic and social justice agendas, with a significant body of education research addressing the way in which European systems aim to develop in young people the competences, skills and dispositions required at work (Mulder and Winterton, 2016).
In previous papers (Avis, et al, 2017a,b) we mobilised Leonardo’s (2005) conceptualisation of race ambivalence, which argued that whilst race is ‘unreal’ in that it is an incoherent scientific category, its effects are nevertheless real. These papers examined English research on relationships between race, ethnicity and VET, much of which has lain dormant since the structural accounts of the 1970/80s. Significant questions emerged from the literature: the marginalisation of black youth in VET, their allocation to low level courses, and ‘warehousing’. The latter concept, first developed in the 1970s, refers to the way in which particular fractions of working class youth were effectively ‘parked’ on youth training schemes and low level VET. They were, to use Blacker’s (2013) term, effectively ‘eliminated’ from the labour market, a process particularly applicable to black (Caribbean, African, mixed race) male youth (Roberts 2009).
This paper builds on our earlier research. It addresses the lived experience of black students in VET, sampling ten young people (male and female, 16-25) drawn from a northern provincial and metropolitan English city. It moves beyond our earlier research by addressing the social capital available in black communities that facilitate the transition to VET. Reynolds’ (2013) whilst acknowledging such social capital can be ambiguous draws attention to the way it enables transitions to VET and beyond. Not dissimilarly Modood (2004), in a discussion of British South Asian and Chinese communities, draws on the notion of ‘ethnic capital’ which serves as a community resource. This leads us to consider the way the opportunity structure young people encounter is impacted by region, locality, labour market as well as its positioning in a metropolitan or provincial city. Ball, et al (2000) draw our attention to the particularities of London as a global city. In a number of respects such processes map onto European experiences and raises questions about their specificity. Roberts (2009) for example, in a discussion of East and West Germany points towards the qualitatively different labour market contexts faced by young people in these regions. Such arguments need to be nuanced to take into account labour market conditions and the way in which these are played out in relation to race and ethnicity. Martin and Morrison (2003) note the spatial and constructed nature of labour markets as well as their porosity. Alongside a local labour market that features low waged intermittent work, or no work at all, there may be others lodged within a global labour market of high skilled/waged work. Such labour markets may overlap but will also be subject to ongoing change and construction. Thus within a social formation, areas of full employment and putative skills gaps/mismatch sit alongside regions/localities characterised by multiple disadvantage and the lack of decent jobs. Similarly, Thelen and Busemeyer (2011) illustrate the shift from collectivism to segmentalism in German VET, whereby the latter refers to training that narrowly addresses the specific needs of employers.
This small scale case study addresses the lived experience of male and female black Caribbean and mixed heritage youth in VET. It uses an opportunist sample of ten young people (16-25) from a northern provincial and metropolitan city. It moves beyond our earlier research in that it addresses the social capital available in black communities that can facilitate and inform the transition to VET. This leads us to consider the manner in which the opportunity structure that our young people encounter is impacted by region, locality, labour market as well as its positioning in a metropolitan or provincial city. Ball, et al (2000) draw our attention to the particularities of London as a global city and in a number of respects such processes map onto European experiences as well as raising questions about their specificity. Roberts (2009) for example, in a discussion of East and West Germany points towards the qualitatively different economic contexts faced by young people in these regions. However, such arguments need to be nuanced to take into account labour market conditions and the way in which these are played out in relation to race and ethnicity. Martin and Morrison (2003) draw our attention to the spatial and constructed nature of labour markets as well as their porosity. Alongside a local labour market that features low waged intermittent work, there may be other workers lodged within a global labour market of high skilled/waged work. Similarly, Thelen and Busemeyer (2011) point to the shift from collectivism to segmentalism in German VET, whereby the latter refers to training that narrowly addresses the specific needs of employers. The interviews explore black learners’ lived experiences, enabling examination of their routes into VET, pedagogic experience, their orientation towards the vocational and their specific experiences of Further Education colleges (the main provider of VET in England). By utilising semi-structured interviews, we were able to pursue particular lines of inquiry arising during the interview, allowing us to develop fuller understanding of interviewees’ interpretations of their VET experiences. The interviews were coded and thematically analysed. Whilst this is as yet a small scale exploratory study for which we make no claims for generalisability or representativeness, nevertheless it offers some illumination and relatability to the experiences of black youth in metropolitan and provincial cities and disadvantaged contexts who face similar circumstances elsewhere in Europe.
The study develops our understanding of the experiences of black students in VET. It relates these findings to empirical work not only in the UK but also to continental Europe (see for example Colding 2006 and Szalai et al 2009). It allows us to consider the significance of theoretical analyses of the VET experience of black youth with other minority ethnic groups in Europe, enabling an examination of both specificity and continuity. Importantly, we will be able to examine the salience of analyses of social capital, metropolitan and provincial cities as well as labour market condition on these processes. In addition, the study also enables a consideration of the salience of gender and class on these processes. The study anticipates further qualitative and quantitative work in both the UK and Europe, building upon this and earlier research.
Avis, J., Orr, K., Warmington, P. (2017a) Race and Vocational Education and Training in England, JVET Avis, J., Orr, K., Warmington, P. (2017b) Black Students in English Vocational Education and Training. https://vetnetsite.org/conferences/presentations/2017-copenhagen-presentations/ Ball, S.J., Maguire, M., Macrae, S. (2000) Choice, Pathways and Transitions Post-16, London, RoutledgeFalmer Beck, V., Fuller A., Unwin, L. (2006) Safety in stereotypes? The impact of gender and 'race' on young people's perceptions of their post-compulsory education and labour market opportunities, British Educational Research Journal, 32(5) Blacker, D. (2013) The falling rate of learning and the neoliberal endgame, Brown, P., Lauder, H., Ashton, D. (2011) The Global Auction, Cedfop, 2011. Vocational education and training for the common good: The macrosocial benefits of VET. Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union Chadderton, C., Edmonds, C. (2015) ‘Refugees and access to vocational education and training across Europe: a case of protection of white privilege?’, Journal of Vocational Education & Training, 67(2), 136-152. Colding, B. (2006),"Ethnicity, gender and vocational education in Denmark", International Journal of Manpower, 27 (4) 342 - 357 Leonardo, Z. (2005) “Through the multicultural glass: Althusser, ideology and race relations in post-civil rights America.” Policy Futures in Education 3(4): 400-12. Martin, R., Morrison, P. S. (2003) The geographies of labour market inequality, in Martin, R., Morrison, P. S. (Eds) Geographies of Labour Market inequality, London, Routledge. Modood, T. (2004) Capitals, ethnic identity and educational Qualifications, Cultural Trends, 13(2) Mulder, M., Winterton, J. (Eds) (2016) Competence-based Vocational and Professional Education Bridging the World of Work and Education, Springer Reynolds, T. (2013) ‘Them and Us’: ‘Black Neighbourhoods’ as a Social Capital Resource among Black Youths Living in Inner-city London, Urban Studies 50(3) 484–498 Roberts, K. 2009. Youth in Transition. Palgrave. Szalai, J., Carson, M., KusA, Z., Eniko Magyari-Vincze, E., ZentaI, V. (2014) Comparative Report on Educational Policies for Inclusion. EDUMIGROM, Center for Policy Studies Central European University, Budapest, Thelen, K. and Busemeyer, M. (2011). Institutional change in German vocational training: from collectivism towards segmentalism, in M. Busemeyer and C. Trampusch (eds) The political economy of collective skill formation, (pp.68-100). Oxford: Oxford University Press.
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