Workshop	
  on	
  Work-­based	
  Learning	
  in	
  Politics	
  and	
  
International	
  Studies,	
  Oxford	
  Brookes	
  U...
Payment	
  as	
  an	
  issue?	
  Minimum	
  wage	
  for	
  work	
  placements?	
  	
  
• Ethical	
  issues	
  linked	
  to...
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Notes summarising key themes of the discussion during the breakout session on Skills, Ethics and Employability - Mikko Kuisma

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Notes from activity at HEA-funded workshop 'Work-based learning in Politics and International Studies: from theory to practice'.

The workshop brought together key stakeholders in the delivery of work-based learning and employability skills in the Politics and International Relations (IR) disciplines including academics, employers and careers advisors. Through presentations and discussion delegates had the opportunity to share best practice on existing work-based learning schemes and developing employability skills.

This presentation is part of a related blog post that provides an overview of the event: http://bit.ly/1x0KPae

For further details of the HEA's work on Employability and Global Citizenship in the Social Sciences see: http://bit.ly/17n8Knj

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Notes summarising key themes of the discussion during the breakout session on Skills, Ethics and Employability - Mikko Kuisma

  1. 1. Workshop  on  Work-­based  Learning  in  Politics  and   International  Studies,  Oxford  Brookes  University  7  April   2014     Breakout  session  on  Skills,  Ethics  and  Employability     Notes  summarising  key  themes  of  the  discussion       Engagement  in  (local)  politics/government  as  a  source  of  empowerment     • Making  sense  of  the  system  –  being  critical     But  should  employability  be  a  central  concern  for  humanities  and  social  sciences?     • What  is  the  point  of  university  education?  Creating  workers  or  empowering  citizens?     Employability  has  been  “hijacked”     • Employers  are  interested  in  university  educated  new  employees  –  is  employability   really  needed  as  an  agenda?     Employability  is  flexibility  –  being  able  to  use  and  apply  your  skills  and  knowledge     • One  size  fits  all?  Possibly  not…     Who  provides  the  necessary  skills  for  employ-­‐ability?  Schools,  universities  and  FE  colleges,   employers?     Disconnect  between  21st  century  youth  and  the  “language”  and  culture  of  politics  as  a   challenge.     • Whose  responsibility  is  it  to  bridge  the  gap?     Q-­‐Step  as  an  initiative  in  providing  quantitative  skills  to  make  “students  useful”  for   placements  providers  and  leading  to  increased  employability.     Cultural  tensions  in  the  employability  “paradigm”  being  ignored  and  neglected?     Potential  tension  between  the  student’s  interests  and  the  employer’s  interests  (learning,   developing,  etc.  vs.  “employing  cheap  labour”?)     • No  finger-­‐pointing  but  there  is  a  serious  ethical  concern  of  placement  students   regularly  filling  gaps  where  organisational  resources  cannot  meet  the  need  for   employing  enough  people.    
  2. 2. Payment  as  an  issue?  Minimum  wage  for  work  placements?     • Ethical  issues  linked  to  the  potential  payment  (collusion  between   employer/employee)     • Not  for  profit  organisations  might  find  this  as  a  very  difficult/impossible   requirement?     Do  we  teach  the  “abstract”  or  the  “real  world”?     • Applying  theoretical  knowledge  –  talking  about  the  real  issues     Unequal  access  (structured  inequalities)     Terminology  (work  experience,  placements,  internships  etc.)   • Same  thing  with  different  words  or  actually  different  meanings?     What  work  is  relevant?  How  much  can  you  engage  with  it?  Minimum/maximum?     Student  well-­‐being  and  welfare  –  anxieties  and  worries     • How  do  we  as  academics  and  placement  providers  take  the  welfare  aspects  into   consideration?     • Unintended  consequences  from  well-­‐meaning  programmes  etc.?  Whose   responsibility?     • How  do  we  keep  the  student’s  interest  at  the  central  focus?     o Are  work-­‐placement  learning  and  employability  projects  really  addressing  the   interests  of  the  students?     Agendas  driven  from  outside  of  academia  but  we  still  are  left  to  deal  with  it  –  also  the   unintended  consequences.     • How  important  is  this?     o Is  it  so  important  that  all  students  should  engage  in  it?     o Are  we  willing  to  take  the  consequences  of  the  voluntary/selective  model   (students  who  engage  with  this,  get  on  pole  position  for  jobs)?     Employability  as  a  term  is  individualistic  –  also  individual  responsibility  if  you  fail     Myth-­‐busting  with  work  placements  is  needed     • What  is  it  really  about  and  what  does  it  really  try  to  achieve?     • Focus  on  the  process  of  a  work  placement  or  the  outcomes  it  produces?     • Managing  students’  expectations     We  share  a  number  of  anxieties!!!      

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