SUMMARY: ASSIGNMENT 2.1

COURSE: WORK AND LEARNING

FORUM: Participation in education and work; identity and social exclusion.(BLOCK 2)

TOPICS: FACTORS OF SOCIAL EXCLUSION AND DISCRIMINATION IN EDUCATION AND EMPLOYMENT

SUMMARY: ASSIGNMENT  2.1

FACTORS OF SOCIAL EXCLUSION AND DISCRIMINATION (link to forum)

Here are some summarizing thoughts on factors of social exclusion and discrimination that I gathered from the readings.

In ILO’s paper on “learning and Training for Work” we have seen how enabling access to education and training is viewed as a pillar of policy making efforts to ensure people’s participation in “economic and social life.” (p.1) Education and training are seen as the gateway to employment, which in turn would help overcome poverty. Such premises inform current E.U. policies on access and inclusion. Many countries’ training and education systems are based on such premises, as clearly explained by Peter Kearns and George Papadopolous in “Building a learning and training culture: The experience of five OECD countries.” However, in my view such approach may be too linear, discounting the complexity of present day’s economic disarray. It is definitely true that “governments throughout the world are taking action to promote access of these groups to education, training and skills development in different ways,” (ILO, ch.2 p. 12) but in reality such programs may have limited effects on general employability during dire economic times.

But who has access to learning and work? Personally, I believe that to date education credentials serve as powerful access-regulating devices, which means that access to the job market depends on applicants’ formal credentials. There are of course many other forms of more or less overt discrimination that may affect access to the job market are: gender, nationality, age, language, immigration status, university affiliation, perceived ethnic profile.

Most of the aforementioned factors were not addressed in the readings, However, access to employment and continuing academic and professional formation may be hindered by other more “technical” factors that were discussed in the articles. Here is a brief summary of them as they emerged from my reading.

1) ISSUES OF ACCESS WITHIN COMMUNITIES OF PRACTICE

Guile & Griffiths recognize that access to skill formation in communities of practice may be subject to discriminatory policies. “This raises the question of how easily students gain access to and operate in such work contexts. A recurring assumption in the general education and VET work experience literature is that this happens ipso facto. However, this neglects the extent to which participating in a ‘community of practice’ can be highly problematic. As Gheredi et al. (1998) have observed, it requires ‘host’ organisations actively to provide opportunities for learners to observe, discuss and try out different practices with members of the ‘community’ they have temporarily joined.” (p.118)

Power

As I wrote in my other post on power in “Communities of domination,” Huzzard recognizes the role of power in issues of access to learning in communities of practice. He suggests that “the power dimension was arguably lost in a process whereby the communities of practice became “popularised” to appeal to a management audience (Brown and Duguid, 1991).” (p. 352) He also recognizes that language can be a factor of social exclusion and discrimination: “In unequal power relations, the dominant party may actively choose to communicate or construct reality by selecting certain linguistic formations, or may simply communicate in the taken-for-granted formations which seem appropriate in context.”(p. 355)

2) ISSUES OF ACCESS TO COOPERATIVE EDUCATION OPPORTUNITIES

Grosjean in Co-op Education recognizes that the Canadian Co-op model is becoming increasingly like an elite program with restricted access.

“With restrictive access to co-op and privileged opportunities for ‘good’ jobs becoming the norm, co-op is showing signs of becoming an elite program.” (p.209) “Access to co-op programs is becoming increasingly restrictive. Only ‘the best’ students are admitted.” (p.209) furthermore, co-op programs seem to favor students with good grades and with the learning styles that are conducive to receiving such grades. “Because academic rewards are based on grades, personal learning styles tend to favour those known to deliver the high grades required to remain in the co-op program.” (p.212)

3) ISSUES OF ACCESS TO THE JOB MARKET AND TO FURTHER JOB FORMATION OPPORTUNITIES

From my understanding, segmented labor market theory as presented by Defreitas serves as both a factor of discrimination that impacts access and participation , and as a policy feature that serves as perpetuating a system of inequality.

4) PERSONAL ISSUES THAT MAY LEAD TO EXCLUSION AND DISCRIMINATION

I also believe that the experience of wounding learning as cited in Wojecki’s article may be a factor that may negatively affect a learner’s attitude towards further education (academic and workplace formation).

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