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Conceptualising routes to employability in higher education: the case of education studies

Menendez Alvarez-Hevia, D and Naylor, S (2019) Conceptualising routes to employability in higher education: the case of education studies. Journal of Education and Work, 32 (4). pp. 407-419. ISSN 1363-9080


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© 2019, © 2019 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. This paper contributes to critical understandings of the significance of employability in current debates about the transformation of Higher Education (HE). We express our concerns about the implications of orientating HE to utilitarian demands in the light of a tendency to align discussions about the significance of studying at university with the idea of employability. The research underlying this article explores how the experience of UK university students in the context of education studies programmes shapes their conceptions of employability and their understanding of their subject of study. Ideas developed by Gert Biesta are used as a framework to discuss different forms in which thoughts about employability are articulated. The analysis of data that includes reflections on the experience of placement suggests that tensions between education as training for teachers and education as the possibility for change, point to the emergence of a new form of understanding employability that may have to work the boundary between both. We argue that lessons learnt from the case of education studies can be useful to other subjects and programmes of study that also share an interest in the theoretical study of a discipline or where a narrow career expectation is being challenged by broader possibilities.

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