Skip to main content
Article thumbnail
Location of Repository

Globalisation, neo-liberalism and vocational learning: the case of English further education colleges

By Robin Simmons


Further education (FE) has traditionally been a rather unspectacular activity. Lacking the visibility of schools or the prestige of universities, for the vast majority of its existence FE has had a relatively low profile on the margins of English education. Over recent years this situation has altered significantly and further education has undergone profound change. This paper argues that a combination of related factors – neo-liberalism, globalisation, and dominant discourses of the knowledge economy – has acted in synergy to transform FE into a highly performative and marketised sector. Against this backdrop, further education has been assigned a particular role based upon certain narrow and instrumental understandings of skill, employment and economic competitiveness. The paper argues that, although it has always been predominantly working class in nature, FE is now, more than ever, positioned firmly at the lower end of the institutional hierarchy in the highly class-stratified terrain of English education

Topics: L1, LB2300
Publisher: Routledge
Year: 2010
OAI identifier:

Suggested articles


  1. (1946). (Ministry of Education). doi
  2. (2007). A Guide to Vocational Education and Training. doi
  3. (2007). Aiming higher: how will universities respond to changes in initial teacher training for the post-compulsory sector? doi
  4. (2006). An analytical framework for policy engagement: the contested case of 14-19 reform in England. doi
  5. (1975). Class, Culture and the Curriculum. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul. doi
  6. (1980). College Administration. doi
  7. (1994). Competence, Education and NVQs: Dissenting Perspectives. doi
  8. (2008). Creativity and performativity: the case of further education. doi
  9. (2004). Critical pedagogy and a politics of hope: trainee further education practice. doi
  10. (2008). Education, globalisation and the future of the knowledge economy. doi
  11. (2003). Employability in a Knowledge-Driven Economy. doi
  12. (2006). Empowering participants or corroding learning? Towards a research agenda on the impact of student consumerism in higher education. doi
  13. (2003). Fighting Back. Against the Tyranny of the market 2. London: Verso. (originally 2001, translated by Loic Wacquant)
  14. (1980). Free to Choose. doi
  15. (2009). Globalisation and education: a review of conflicting perspectives and their effect on policy and professional practice in the UK. doi
  16. (2006). Globalization and the changing nature of the OECD’s educational work.
  17. (2000). Globalization, the national state and political theory. doi
  18. (2008). Golden years? Further education colleges under local authority control. doi
  19. (2001). High Skills: Globalization, Competitiveness and Skills Formation. doi
  20. (1988). Homo Academicus. doi
  21. (2007). How competency-based training locks the working class out of powerful knowledge. doi
  22. (2007). In search of the further education of young people in post-war England. doi
  23. (1976). Law, Legislation and Liberty. doi
  24. (1999). Learning Policy: Towards the Certified Society. doi
  25. (1997). Managerialism and professionalism in the Cinderella sector. doi
  26. (2000). Partnerships with the community.
  27. (2006). Prosperity for All in the Global Economy – world class skills.
  28. (2008). Raising the age of compulsory education in England: A NEET solution? doi
  29. (2006). Running ever faster down the wrong road, Inaugural Lecture.
  30. (2000). Staff relations.
  31. (2006). The age of human capital.
  32. (2003). The Changing Face of Further Education - doi
  33. (1986). The forms of capita.
  34. (2000). The Global Transformations Reader: an introduction to the globalization debate. doi
  35. (2007). The heart of what we do’: policies on teaching, learning and assessment in the learning and skills sector. doi
  36. (1995). The Modernity of Further Education: The Direction of Change in Further Education Colleges. Bilston:
  37. (1991). The Work of Nations: a blueprint for the future.

To submit an update or takedown request for this paper, please submit an Update/Correction/Removal Request.