Employability, Knowledge and the Creative Arts: Reflections from an Ethnographic Study of NEET Young People on an Entry to Employment Programme

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This paper draws on research into the experiences of young people classified as NEET (not in education, employment or training) on an employability programme in the north of England, and uses Basil Bernstein’s work on pedagogic discourses to explore how the creative arts can be used to re-engage them in work-related learning. Whilst creating demand for young people’s labour is central to tackling youth unemployment, the paper contends that using the arts can go some way towards breaking down barriers to learning experienced by many marginalised young people, and argues that creative activities can be used to introduce them to forms of knowledge which have been largely flushed out of vocational education – at least for many working-class learners. The paper presents ethnographic data which suggests that skilful, well-informed tutors can, at least in some circumstances, use the creative arts to provide young people with access to forms of learning which transcend official discourses of employability, and introduce marginalised youth to forms of learning rooted in what Bernstein described as ‘powerful knowledge’.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)22-37
Number of pages16
JournalResearch in Post-Compulsory Education
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 16 May 2017


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