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Employability and higher education: contextualising female students' workplace experiences to enhance understanding of employability development

By Louise Gracia

Abstract

Current political and economic discourses position employability as a responsibility of higher education, which deploys mechanisms such as supervised work experience (SWE) to embed employability skills development into the undergraduate curriculum. However, workplaces are socially constructed complex arenas of embodied knowledge that are gendered. Understanding the usefulness of SWE therefore requires consideration of the contextualised experiences of it, within these complex environments. This study considers higher education's use of SWE as a mechanism of employability skills development through exploration of female students' experiences of accounting SWE, and its subsequent shaping of their views of employment. Findings suggest that women experience numerous, indirect gender-based inequalities within their accounting SWE about which higher education is silent, perpetuating the framing of employability as a set of individual skills and abilities. This may limit the potential of SWE to provide equality of employability development. The study concludes by briefly considering how insights provided by this research could better inform higher education's engagement with SWE within the employability discourse, and contribute to equality of employability development opportunity

Topics: HD
Publisher: Routledge
Year: 2009
OAI identifier: oai:wrap.warwick.ac.uk:2652

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