LLAKES Conference


2012 LLAKES Conference

Lifelong Learning, Crisis and Social Change

Thursday 18 October and Friday 19 October 2012
Senate House, University of London

 The conference drew extensively on research carried out by members of the ESRC-funded LLAKES Centre over the past five years, in order to address a series of  interconnected issues. Topics covered included:  innovation; skills; adult learning; social values and cohesion; and varieties of capitalism, along with the regional and international dimensions of these debates. The input from the LLAKES Centre was be complemented by external speakers through a series of presentations and seminars. Research outputs were used to illuminate contemporary problems, and to recommend potential policy developments.

Keynote Speakers

Will Hutton, University of Oxford

Jonathan Portes, National Institute of Economic and Social Research

Stuart Dawley, Newcastle University

Andy Green, Institute of Education



Workshop A1: “Apprenticeship and City Regions”

Room G22, 3.10 pm – 4.40 pm, Thursday 18 October 2012

Chair: Dr Laura James


Professor Lorna Unwin: Can apprenticeships save the city? The civic struggle to achieve social and economic goals (I)

Professor Alison Fuller: Can apprenticeships save the city? The civic struggle to achieve social and economic goals (II)

Apprenticeship has always played both a social and economic role. Today, it forms part of the regeneration strategies of cities in the United Kingdom. This process involves the creation and management of complex institutional relationships across the public and private domains of the civic landscape. In this presentation we will argue that it is through closely observed analysis of these meso-level developments (in contrast to studies of national systems) that we can reveal how the sustainability of vocational education and training initiatives depends on the generation of civic social capital in the pursuit of collective goals. At the same time, the path dependent nature of the clustering of social and economic inequality taxi heathrow in urban post-industrial settings remains a constant reminder of the scale of the problems confronting all those involved. Using the illustration of two case studies from Manchester, in the north of England, and Southampton, in the south of the country this paper explores the way in which apprenticeship forms part of the regeneration strategies of the two cities.

Associate Professor Sanne Akkerman: Crossing boundaries between school and work

The presentation focuses on the way in which students in senior vocational education move between school and work during apprenticeships. Following a recent literature review that we conducted, I discuss how the school-work transitions that students make can be conceptualized in terms of encountering and taxi gatwick crossing boundaries and howboundary crossing opens up new possibilities to learn.

As an example of such a conceptualization, I discuss our study in laboratory education, and go into the way in which Statistics (as a subject) is explicitly focused on in school, and how it is rendered invisible in the laboratories in which students work during their apprenticeships. I report on a small intervention study that was undertaken in order to stimulate students, teachers and workplace supervisors to talk about and question the central role of statistics more explicitly. Doing so, I illustrate how one can use boundary objects and brokers to support processes of boundary crossing.


Workshop A2: “Adult Learning in the Workplace”

Room G26, 3.10 pm – 4.40 pm, Thursday 18 October 2012

Chair: Professor Francis Green


Professor Alan Felstead: Training in a Cold Climate: the effect of the 2008-09 Recession in the UK

This paper examines the impact of the 2008-9 recession on training activity in the UK. In international terms, the UK is assumed to have a deregulated training market which is sensitive to changing economic conditions. However, national datasets and qualitative interviews suggest that, despite the severity of trading cryptocurrency the recession, employers cut training expenditures by a small amount, and the impact on training participation rates was minimal. Contrary to the starting assumption of a deregulated training market, this research shows that employers in the UK do not have a completely free hand, and statii grafice that a combination of market intervention and business requirements obliged most of them to sustain training during the recession. These constraints included: compliance with legal requirements; meeting operational needs; and satisfying customer demands. However, the recession prompted many employers to find ways of maintaining training coverage to meet these obligations, or, as several respondents put it, of “training smarter”.

Professor Karen Evans: The challenges of establishing sustainable ‘Skills for Life’ provision in UK workplaces: organisational ‘strategies’ and ‘individual ‘tactics’

This paper, based on LLAKES research, explores the key factors that have facilitated and inhibited sustainable ‘Skills for Life’ (literacy, numeracy and ESOL) workplace provision in the UK. We have drawn on the metaphor of a social ecology of learning to explore the inter-relationships between individuals and groups at policy and organisational level and combined this with Michael de Certeau’s theoretical work on quotidian social practices in order to cast light on the diverse ways in which ‘Skills for Life’ provision has been put saltele cluj to use by learners. The paper argues that the ‘Skills for Life’ national strategy generated a complex ‘ecology of learning’ at policy level, whereby a byzantine and shifting funding landscape, with its concomitant bureaucracy and strong emphasis on target-bearing qualifications  militated against long-term sustainable provision. Those organisations that have managed to sustain provision have generally succeeded in integrating ‘Skills for Life’ courses within a broader ‘ecology of learning’ whereby there is both support and formal recognition for such provision within the organisation as a whole.

Rebecca Riley: Human capital spillovers: the importance of training

The economic returns to education are often thought to exceed the earnings premium received by educated workers due to the presence of knowledge spillovers. This study examines the magnitude of such spillover effects at sector level using longitudinal data on workers in 6 European countries. We find that the spillover effects from education to workers in the same sector increase with employers’ investment in training.

Workshop A3: “Crisis, Conflict and Cohesion”

Room G35, 3.10 pm – 4.40 pm, Thursday 18 October 2012

Chair: Dr Bryony Hoskins


Dr Helen Cheng: Intergenerational and early psychological effects on adult social trust and mental well-being: Findings from a British cohort

This presentation will report on a study undertaken by Helen Cheng, Germ Janmaat, Ingrid Schoon, and Andy Green, which examined the associations between family social background, maternal psychological distress, childhood intelligence, teenage emotional adjustment and locus of control, educational and occupational attainment, adult social trust and mental well-being in a large representative sample of British population born in 1970. More than 5,000 participants completed a general cognitive ability test at age 10, emotional adjust and locus of control at age 16, educational qualifications at age 30, occupational attainment, social trust, and mental well-being measures at age 34. In addition, participants’ parents completed a questionnaire on psychological distress when they were at age 5. A life course model of social trust and mental well-being is tested using Structural Equation Modelling (SEM) to assess the pathways linking early influences to adult outcomes. Results showed that family social background, maternal psychological distress, childhood intelligence, emotional adjustment and locus of control in teenage years all directly and significantly influenced social trust in adulthood. Maternal psychological distress, emotional adjustment and locus of control, educational and occupational attainment, and social trust were all directly and significantly associated with adult mental well-being; whereas the effects of parental social status and childhood intelligence on adult mental well-being were largely mediated through locus of control, educational and occupational attainment, and social trust.

Dr Marios Vryonides: Civic and Political participation in Southern Europe in the era of the current economic crisis

By all accounts the current economic crisis has severely hit most Southern European countries. The effects of this unparalleled economic recession – evident in several aspects of the social, economic, political and civic lives of individuals, social groups and communities – have had clear negative effects on social cohesion and solidarity. Using data from the European Social Survey and specifically from Rounds 3, 4 and 5 (2006, 2008 and 2010) we will trace how political trust, civic and political participation has evolved in four European countries (Portugal, Spain, Greece and Cyprus) since 2006 (before the crisis). A major argument in this presentation is that international comparative surveys often do not capture the full extent of the ways people are affected by major social downturns nor do they capture the ways and the new forms that civic engagement and political participation might take.

Monique Borsenberger: Social cohesion, values and welfare regimes (co-authored by Paul Dickes and Charles Fleury, researchers at CEPS/INSTEAD)

Social cohesion and social welfare regimes are major topics for society, especially in times of crisis and social change. If a certain consensus is identified around the main types of welfare regimes (Esping-Andersen, 1990), it is still far from being the case about the definition of social cohesion. An interesting approach, developed by Bernard (1999, 2003), suggests to define social cohesion as the process by which are made the historical compromises around three values, that are freedom, equality and solidarity. This process is made within three main spheres of activity, i.e. economic, political and sociocultural, through attitudes and behaviour. Based on Bernard’s theory, Dickes et al. (2011) have proposed a model of measurement of social cohesion using the European Values Study (2008) and based on questions on attitudes and behaviors covering political and socio-cultural domains of life. We propose to complete this index with the dimension of values to which Bernard is referring in his theory. This full model will allow us to create a typology of social cohesion regimes and to compare it to welfare regimes typology in order to identify how they articulate together and if they fully overlap or not.


Workshop A4: “Cultural Diversity, Migration and Social Cohesion”

Room G37, 3.10 pm – 4.40 pm, Thursday 18 October 2012

Chair: Dr Germ Janmaat


Dr Helen Everett: Faith Schools and Students’ Tolerance of Religious Groups

A criticism leveled at faith schools is that students in these schools will be less tolerant towards members of other faith groups than students in non-faith schools, but recent research, which I have conducted, indicates that this is not the case. Findings from the research suggested that students in all the schools visited, faith and non faith, were less tolerant of religious groups than they were of other groups in society, such as immigrants and people of different ethnicities. The schools impacted on this attitude through their failure to provide their students with sufficiently meaningful contact with the Religious Other. This paper will begin by discussing the way that tolerance was conceptualised in the research. Rather than taking a fixed definition of tolerance two modes of tolerance were identified; passive and active, with the findings discussed here only occurring when active tolerance was considered. It will then present the findings from the research conducted in six English secondary schools (four faith and two non-faith) which investigated the impact of schools on their students’ attitudes of tolerance. Possible explanations as to why this difference in tolerance might be occurring will be discussed with links being made to secularism and particular understandings of multiculturalism.
Professor Peter Taylor-Gooby/Dr Ed Waite: From stronger to weaker multi-culturalism? How the UK policy community sees the future of ethnic diversity policies

Multiculturalism as the dominant approach to managing diversity in the UK has been called into question by politicians, community leaders and academics in recent years. This paper reports interviews with leading figures in the debate, including members of the Home Affairs Select Committee, authors of major reports, experts, researchers and academics about multiculturalism, social cohesion and future directions in policy. It finds that attitudes do not fit the traditional left-centre-right dimension of British politics but indicate unease at the assumed segregative effects of current policy at the abstract level. However, when specific issues (sharia law, faith schooling, dress and diet codes, political representation) are considered, the viewpoints of most of those interviewed are more pragmatic, leading to an incremental approach to future directions in policy. Relatively few respondents, again not typified by party allegiance, advocate strong policies to impose British values or move decisively away from a general multiculturalist stance. The transition is rather from stronger to weaker multiculturalism.

Dr Ulrike Niens: Understandings of Acculturation, Identity and Religion in schools: Straddling the balance between assimilation, integration and marginalisation

This presentation aims to explore the relationship between religious identity, acculturation strategies and perceptions of acculturation orientation in the school context amongst young people from minority belief backgrounds. Based on a qualitative study including interviews with 26 young people from religious minority belief backgrounds in Northern Ireland, it is argued that acculturation theory provides a useful lens for understanding how young people from religious minority belief backgrounds navigate majority religious school contexts. Using a qualitative approach to explore acculturation theory enabled an in-depth understanding of the inter-relationship between minority belief youth’s acculturation strategies and their respective school contexts. The findings highlight how young people negotiate their religious identities in a complex web of inter-relationships between their minority religious belief community and the mainstream school culture as represented through peer and staff attitudes, school ethos and practices and Religious Education.  Young people demonstrated differentiated understandings of acculturation orientations within the school context which they evaluated on the basis of complex perceptions of educational policy, interpersonal relationships and individuals’ motivations.  Findings are discussed in view of acculturation tensions which arose particularly in relation to the Religious Education curriculum and their implications for opt-out provision as stipulated by human rights law.

Workshop B1: “Lifelong Systems and Effects”

Room G22, 11.00 am – 12.30 pm, Friday 19 October 2012

Chair: Professor Andy Green


Dr Tarek Mostafa: Measuring the Impact of Universal Pre-School Education and Care on Literacy Performance Scores

The objective of this paper is to simulate the effects of universal pre-school education and care (PSEC) on reading performance scores and educational inequalities in the UK and Sweden. We utilize the PISA 2009 data and start by estimating a fixed effects multilevel model for each country in order to determine the returns to PSEC attendance. Then we simulate the effects of universal PSEC provision using counterfactual data. More precisely, after estimating the multilevel model, we progressively universalize PSEC participation starting with the lowest economic, cultural and social status (ESCS) decile and moving up to reach the top decile. At each stage of the universalisation process we compute the average predicted performance scores for each ESCS decile and for each country as well as their dispersions. This allows us to measure the change in average predicted literacy scores and the change in the level of inequality.

Dr Germ Janmaat: Educational differentiation and inequalities of civic engagement

This presentation explores the influence of two institutional properties of education systems – the degree of grouping by ability and degree of school autonomy – on disparities of civic engagement. It hypothesizes that systems that select early on the basis of ability and systems with high levels of school autonomy are likely to produce greater disparities of civic engagement both across classrooms and across social and ethnic groups. Data of the 2009 International Citizenship and Civic Education Study (ICCS) and of the 2009 OECD PISA report were used to measure civic engagement, early selection and school autonomy. We found that countries with early selection systems in compulsory education indeed show larger disparities of civic engagement across classrooms, but inequalities of civic engagement across social and ethnic groups are not larger in those countries by comparison to countries with strict comprehensive systems. Centralization (as tapped with the inverse indicator of school autonomy) turned out to go hand-in-hand with smaller disparities of civic engagement across social groups, but this relationship was only visible amongst upper secondary students and was not based on significant correlations. Centralization is not related to any other inequalities of civic engagement, neither across classrooms nor across social and ethnic groups.

Professor Marie Duru-Bellat: Education and social cohesion in a comparative perspective

In current political discourses and policies at a national and European levels, the development of education is generally assumed to be one of the key determinants of what is now commonly referred to as social cohesion. However, very few studies have provided empirical evidence for this claim. In order to shed light on this issue, we have achieved an empirical study, in a sample of OECD countries, whose results will be presented. We will begin by defining cohesion based on a number of key indicators. Secondly, we will explore the links between cohesion and various educational variables, taking into account some global socioeconomic characteristics of the countries under study.

One of the main results is that a strong impact of education, assessed by the economic returns of educational qualifications, seems to be relatively deleterious to social cohesion. While a strong correspondence between educational credentials and jobs has a positive impact on the social and professional integration of individuals, it also increases the exclusion of those without qualifications and intensifies inter-individual competition. Social cohesion is thus weakened at an aggregate level, providing an example of the contradictions that may arise in observations at the level of individuals and observations at the level of social groups; this remind us of the complexity of macro comparative research.

Workshop B2: “Innovation, Skills and Growth”

Room G26, 11.00 am – 12.30 pm, Friday 19 October 2012

Chair: Professor David Guile


Dr Laura James: Learning, Innovation and Economic Development: The Creative Sector in the Birmingham City Region

The idea of building a knowledge-based economy in which learning and innovation are the drivers of economic growth continues to underpin economic development policy in Britain. Over the last twenty years this ambition has been translated into economic development policies that draw heavily on concepts from regional studies and economic geography in aiming to support clusters, innovative milieus, and triple helix relations. These ‘territorial innovation models’, as they have become known, espoused the benefits of geographical proximity, institutional thickness, and the development of close relationships and knowledge exchange between firms and other organisations, forming a conceptual framework for the Regional Development Agencies. More recently, however, both academics and policymakers have revised their assumptions about the kinds of knowledge processes that are important for economic development, the scale at which we should study knowledge interactions and innovation, the kinds of actors who should be involved and what kind of policies are need to support it. Drawing on LLAKES research on the digital media industry in Birmingham over the last 3 years, this paper explores conceptual and methodological issues, and presents some findings from our study of changes in the policy and economic landscape.

Geoff Mason: Innovation and supply-chain development in UK regions: what role can universities play?

Regions with relatively low gross value added per capita tend to be the most dependent on their universities for income and innovation and for new business formation (as measured by university spin-offs as percentages of all new VAT registered firms). Yet these regions tend to lack universities with high research ratings that attract the most research-active firms. This paper investigates what role universities can play in building up research and innovation capacity at regional level, drawing on research in the renewable energy technologies sector. It identifies a sharp split between research-active universities which tend to be involved in national and international networks involving business partners and other HE institutions which focus more on technical problem-solving and skills development at regional level.

Professor Henrik Halkier: Combining Knowledge in Destination and Experience Development – The Case of North Jutland, Denmark

Knowledge and innovation is widely acknowledged to be crucial for regional development, and no less so within tourism, an area of socio-economic activity often associated with low skills and limited innovation.  Moreover, recent research would seem to suggest that combination of different types of knowledge can be an important way for regions, including lagging ones, to break away from their current development path. At the best of times combining different types of knowledge, e.g. cultural and managerial, can be challenging, and tourist destinations often experience difficulties with innovation and knowledge combination, also because such activities requires extensive coordination between the large number of small actors.

In order stimulate growth in the local visitor economy symbolic knowledge about visitor preferences needs to be combined with synthetic knowledge about organisations, innovation and business development. However, in tourist destinations different types and forms of knowledge are primarily associated with different actors, and hence knowledge combination becomes not just a question of aligning different perspectives on the world within the individual organisation, but also an inter-organisational process.

This paper aims to explore the role of knowledge combination in attempts to make a tourist destination more competitive through development of new experiences, and its focus will primarily be on the establishing the difficulties presented by knowledge combination in a non-metropolitan destination, and the inter-organisational strategies pursued in order to progress development within the destination. The paper takes as its starting point an institutionalist perspective on policy and knowledge processes, and presents findings from research undertaken at the Top of Denmark destination, situated at the tip of one of northern Europe’s prime locations for seaside tourism.

Workshop B3: “Risk in the Life Course”

Room G35, 11.00 am – 12.30 pm, Friday 19 October 2012

Chair: Professor Karen Evans


Dr John Jerrim: University access for socio-economically disadvantaged children: a  comparison across Anglophone countries

 Educational attainment has risen dramatically across the developed world over the past 15 to 20 years, with particularly strong growth in university participation. Yet despite this rising trend, access to tertiary education remains unequal. Children with well-educated, affluent parents are still over-represented in higher education, particularly within the most prestigious institutions. This has led many countries to consider how their higher education system should be designed in order to encourage more poor children into university. Different countries have set about this task in different ways, yet there has been little work considering whether certain nations are particularly adept (or particularly poor) at getting disadvantaged groups to study for a bachelor’s degree. We attempt to answer this question by estimating a series of university access models across three different countries (England, Australia and the United States). We not only consider access to any university but also admission to an “elite” institution. Our results suggest that socio-economic differences in university access are more pronounced in England than either the United States or Australia. We discuss the implications of our findings for public policy, with particular regards to university access and the creation of more socially mobile societies.

Dr Martin Weale: Risk and Lifelong Learning: the Decision to Upgrade

We explore the decision of men educated with some post-age 16 qualifications to upgrade their qualifications to a degree equivalent, where uncertainty about the returns to qualifications is one element of the general uncertainty that people face. The analysis is structured round a dynamic programming framework of inter-temporal maximisation of the utility derived from consumption and leisure. Our results indicate that allowing for uncertainty is insufficient to explain the observed disparity in the take-up of higher education later in life among individuals who left continuous full-time education with NVQ qualification levels 2 and 3. With annual fees in the range £500-£1000, the relevant sum for the data in question, a perceived risk of failure of 60-80% is needed to explain the low life-time rate of upgrading to NVQ level 4-5.

Professor John Field: Generational inequalities and inter-generational dynamics of lifelong learning 

This paper will explore the concept of generation in the context of learning across the life course. It will be primarily conceptual, exploratory and reflective rather than data-driven at this stage, while setting out an agenda for future research. It will discuss modern concepts of generation, which derive largely from debates with the ghost of Karl Mannheim, and consider how the concept of generation has been applied to understandings of educational inequalities in recent research in Germany and the Nordic nations. It will then examine the dynamics of inter-generational relations in learning, drawing on research undertaken as part of the Teaching and Learning Research Programme (TLRP). The paper will argue that although inter-generational dynamics are a relatively neglected dimension of Anglophone research on life chances and learning, there is a strong case for understanding their dual roles in both inequality and cohesion. It will conclude by outlining some themes and areas for research in the future.

Workshop B4: “Globalisation and Higher Education”

Room G37, 11.00 am – 12.30 pm, Friday 19 October 2012

Chair: Professor Alison Fuller


Professor Roger Dale: From ‘Not Quite Falling Out Of The Sky’ to Europe’s Flagship Programme for Worldwide Academic Cooperation: the Emergence and Significance of Erasmus Mundus

Drawing on documentary sources and interviews with senior European Union (EU) officials, this paper focuses on the emergence of a new and sui generis EU programme in higher education, Erasmus Mundus. The paper argues that the programme emerged in a particular set of macro, meso and micro contexts, that shaped, but did not determine, its content and its eventual outcomes. The focus and detail of the programme emerged from intense deliberations and planning within DGEAC. The programme that eventually emerged involved the introduction of 2 year joint masters degrees to be constructed by consortia of universities from three EU countries, which would be open to students from third countries, for whom generous scholarships would be provided. The paper concludes by considering (a) in what ways this programme differs from other parts of the EU’s offerings in higher education, especially those arising from the Bologna Process and the programme for the modernisation of the University, and (b) its consequences for EU higher education globally

Professor Susan Robertson/Dr Fumi Kitagawa: Challenging Hegemonic Conceptions of Enterprise and Entrepreneurship: Cases from the University’s Engagement in the City Region

In this paper we argue that a narrow, conception of enterprise, entrepreneurship and innovation dominates contemporary policy and practice around the role of universities in city regional development. Yet our research projects show the ways universities continue to enact their roles in complex and multiple ways within the city region. From the Bristol 2011 Enterprise and Entrepreneurship Survey we show the diverse experiences and views of students on enterprise and entrepreneurship in their lives. From the three case studies we reveal counter-hegemonic conceptions and practices at work. The Bristol Bike Project works with global refugees and using voluntary labour – many of whom are university students, the Project aims to be sustainable through the recycling of mechanical parts and the generation of social knowledge and skills. The university student-created FOODCYCLE project acquires surplus food from local supermarkets and, using student volunteers as labour, provides food for less-well off members of the community. Finally, SETsquared, a high-tech incubator aimed at creating small scalable spin-out firms, is highly dependent on social, cultural and organisational capital acquired within and beyond the university. This challenges conventional theories on the heroic figure at the heart of entrepreneurship. Taken together these very different cases highlight the ways in which we need to expand our understanding of innovation and entrepreneurship if we are to make visible, and value, these diverse contributions.

Susana Jorge de Melo: Qualifications Frameworks, the Council of Europe, and the Epistemic Dimension of Transnational Technocracy

Based on a case study of the involvement of the Council of Europe (CoE) in the construction of the European Higher Education Area (EHEA), this paper examines how the EHEA framework for qualifications constitutes a new instrument in the field of cooperation in international recognition of higher education qualifications. On the one hand, the paper analyses the ways in which that instrument underpins the rejection of pluralist conceptions of higher education. On the other hand, it explores the concern of the CoE with providing for training of European technocratic elites on the common conceptual framework that would need to be applied in order to make the new instrument effective. The paper concludes by discussing whether attention to transnational technocratic education can contribute to gaining an understanding of change in the dynamics of regionalizing higher education at the European level.


Workshop C1: “Lifelong Learning and Civic Engagement”

Room G22, 1.30 – 3.00 pm, Friday 19 October 2012

Chair: Dr Germ Janmaat


Dr Bryony Hoskins: The de-politicisation of future workers: The political engagement of young people in general and vocational school tracks in Denmark, England and Germany

Using a mixed method research design, this presentation explores the effects of school selection on students’ voting intentions in England, Denmark and Germany. The results suggest that there are a number of complementary explanations. First, there are the prior effects of students’ socio-economic background (SES). Thus, lower levels of SES lead to both a greater likelihood for young people to be in Initial Vocational Education and Training (IVET), and that these young people have lower levels of political self-efficacy. In addition, political self-efficacy and track both then mediate between SES and intention to vote, in the sense that lower levels of political self-efficacy and the IVET track further reduce the likelihood of disadvantaged students to vote. Furthermore, the experience of IVET can have a direct effect on voting intentions possibly through socialisation of the predominant SES group in the school track. Finally, the country context creates different effects. Where IVET has a higher status the effects of IVET on voting intentions appear to be reduced. In countries which only experience school selection at 16 social background is not significant for students taking IVET, but there is a negative effect of this track on levels of political self-efficacy. Where school setting is the norm and IVET has low prestige, there is the strongest effect of SES on IVET, and the strongest direct effect of IVET on voting.

Dr Natasha Kersh:  Perceptions of inequalities within educational contexts: perspectives from six countries.

The paper is concerned with young people’s perceptions of inequalities in educational contexts and settings.  It aims to present findings from qualitative data analysis of semi-structured interviews carried out in England, Denmark, France, Singapore and Germany.  The research has indicated that students’ perceptions of inequalities are related to a number of factors such as expectations, merit, ethnicity, culture, nationality, language and family.  These factors can contribute to creating an environment that can influence the way the learners perceive inequalities within various contexts and settings. The perceptions of inequalities may vary from learner to learner, but generally they are associated with incidents of being treated unfairly or excluded on account of being labelled as ‘different’ in one way or another.  Fraser’s (2003) dimensions of inequalities, namely recognition, redistribution and representation, have been employed to gain a better insight into the perceptions by inequalities young people in six countries. The research compares findings cross-nationally, and discusses the way young people frame and connect issues of exclusion, participation and recognition.

Professor Sir David Watson:  What is the University For? A Southern Perspective

Starting from the position outlined in Stefan Collini’s best seller – What are universities for? - David Watson will offer a critique from the perspective of tertiary education in the global South and East.


Workshop C2: “Skill Formation and Work”

Room G26, 1.30 – 3.00 pm, Friday 19 October 2012

Chair: Geoff Mason


Professor Francis Green: Skills and Skilled work: extending the rationale for social intervention

The conventional case for social intervention to promote workplace learning rests on empirical judgments made in the face of insufficient evidence about market failures. Many analysts come to a default position that militates against intervention; others face prefer an interventionist conclusion. Given the importance of the agency of managers, however, an additional driving principle is the idea of promoting workplace learning where there is evidence that employer ambition has been lacking. Regional and sectoral agencies may have better knowledge of future economic trends, a better appreciation of the evidence about good managerial practices surrounding skills, and a more long-term perspective, than is possessed by the tail of poorly managed firms. Where this is the case, interventions to try to improve management knowledge, capabilities and practices are potentially warranted, depending on the costs of implementation. Similarly in respect of individuals, governments have good reason to assist in the navigation of learning paths where people face deep uncertainty about skills decisions, and lack adequate resources, and where attitudes and dispositions can be a bitter consequence of circumstances and previous bad experiences. The presentation is extracted from Chapter 9 of Skills and Skilled Work: A Social and Economic Analysis, forthcoming Oxford University Press, 2013.

Glenda Quintini: OECD Skills Strategy – Better Skills, Better Jobs, Better Lives: A Strategic Approach to Skills Policies

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Skills Strategy provides an integrated, cross-government strategic framework to help countries understand more about how to invest in skills in a way that will transform lives and drive economies. It will help countries to identify the strengths and weaknesses of their existing national skills pool and skills systems, benchmark them internationally, and develop policies for improvement. In particular, the strategy provides the foundations upon which governments can work effectively with all interested parties – national, local and regional government, employers, employees, and learners – and across all relevant policy areas to: develop the right skills to respond to the needs of the labour market; ensure that where skills exist they are fully utilized; tackle unemployment and help young people to gain a foothold in the labour market in a way that makes best use of their skills; stimulate the creation of more high-skilled and high value-added jobs to compete more effectively in today’s global economy; and exploit linkages across policy fields.

Lesley Giles: A perfect storm to transform our investment approach in the UK? Strategies to secure employer ownership of skills

Over the last decade, whilst there has been considerable investment in skills and real progress in raising skill levels, there have been persistent questions over effectiveness and impact. We are still treading water by international standards. Despite constant change, parts of the skills system are still not supplying the skills the economy needs for growth; and, relative to other countries, our economic performance is falling.

Our current skills system is not designed around the centrality of the employer/employee relationship as the primary customer and puts too many employers off by a system that appears complex, excessively centralised and littered with intermediaries. There remains a lack of transparency of public investment in skills; too few employers and employees know the actual value of public investment. There are questions over the shape and nature of current employer investment, and effectiveness of skills utilisation – particularly in relation to whether investment is wise enough to enhance business performance and to secure sustainable future growth. Too often practices are insufficiently integrated with wider business strategy. The UK’s approach to investing in skills needs refinement. We need skills investment in future to be a shared responsibility. Public investment in skills needs to be deployed in ways that seek to maximise the potential to leverage or improve the effectiveness of private investment. We need therefore more employers to step up and assume ownership of the skills agenda. This presentation sets out developments in the skills policy framework to take this forward and in particular draws insights from work conducted by the UK Commission for Employment and Skills.
Workshop C3: “Internships and Transitions”

Room G35, 1.30 – 3.00 pm, Friday 19 October 2012

Chair: Professor Lorna Unwin


Professor David Guile and Ann Lahiff: Internship in the Creative and Finance Sectors: Models and Implications for Skills’ Policies

Internship has been attracting considerable attention for a number of years and, yet, up to now it has not been the subject of any sustained, serious research. This presentation, which is based on research funded by the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s Commercial Education Trust, in the Finance and Creative sectors. These sectors have been chosen because the former consists of a number of multinational companies, some Small and Medium Size Enterprises (SMEs) and a high preponderance of permanent employment, while the latter sector consists of a small number of multinational companies, high number of SMEs and a high preponderance of contract-based employment. As a consequence, the sectors have different models of, and outcomes from, internship. Based on fieldwork that is still being conducted, the researchers will present:

  • a typology of internship in terms of its purposes, processes and outcomes;
  • case studies of how interns use internships to develop their vocational and entrepreneurial skills.

The session will conclude by identifying the implications of the emerging research findings for national policy for skills.

Dr Ruth Lupton: Disadvantaged young job seekers looking for work: findings from three UK local labour markets

This paper examines the experiences of young people seeking low skilled work in three contrasting local labour market areas in England and Wales. It is based on a mixed methods study including analysis of local vacancy data, a randomised experiment involving 2,001 applications by relatively well-qualified fictional candidates to 667 real jobs, and interviews with employers, labour market intermediaries and disadvantaged young job seekers. The findings provide insights into the structure of contemporary low skilled labour markets and reveal the changing and locally variable nature of recruitment and selection practices and the demands that these place on jobseekers. They call into questions some of the assumptions underpinning welfare conditionality.  The unique feature of the study is the experimental design to test for ‘postcode discrimination’.  Despite widespread perceptions amongst the general public that employers will discriminate against residents from neighbourhoods, we find no statistically significant difference in positive response rates for applicants from areas with poor reputations and those with bland reputations.  The implications of this somewhat surprising finding are discussed.

Dr Anoush Margaryan: Learning at transition for new and experienced staff

This talk focuses on learning and development that occurs during initial and subsequent role transitions within knowledge-intensive workplaces. Learning during transition is explored by bringing concepts and theories from two distinct research traditions – workplace learning and organizational socialization – together. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 29 knowledge workers (scientists, procurement specialists, learning designers, knowledge management analysts and others) in a multinational company, and the experiences of new graduates were contrasted with those of more experienced staff, who had recently joined or changed role within the organization. Findings suggest that graduate induction provides an appropriate grounding for initial transition into the workplace, but that experienced staff undergoing subsequent career transitions do not receive similar socialization despite encountering equivalent challenges. The study highlights the impact of organizational socialization strategies as a mechanism by which an environment to support rich learning and transfer is created.


For further details, or to register for the event, please contact Richard Arnold on r.arnold@ioe.ac.uk  or 020 7911 5464.