The paradox of BKSB assessments and functional skills: the experiences of ‘disengaged’ youth on an employability course in a further education college

Cornish, Carlene ORCID: (2021) The paradox of BKSB assessments and functional skills: the experiences of ‘disengaged’ youth on an employability course in a further education college. Journal of Further and Higher Education, 45 (10). pp. 1411-1423. ISSN 0309-877X

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Self-governance and responsibilisation are integral to Basic Key Skills Builder (BKSB) assessments and Functional Skills qualifications. However, very little is known of its neoliberalist effects and the governance practices of tutors teaching disengaged youth taking Functional Skills as part of the overall employability certificate. Adopting a case study approach within a large further education (FE) college, qualitative research was conducted over two academic years (2013–2015) with tutors and students enrolled on the Level 1 Achieving Skills Course, an employability course designed as a Raising of Participation Age (RPA) re-engagement provision to engage former NEET and disengaged youth in FE. Drawing on Foucault’s theory of governmentality for analysis, key empirical findings revealed chaos, controversy and contradictions inasmuch as exposing the problematic ways in which course tutors implemented BKSB assessments and Functional Skills. Evidently, BKSB and Functional Skills operated as powerful, governance mechanisms of management ordering students according to their capabilities whilst simultaneously bringing students face-to-face with their individual shortcomings. The paper concludes that although in principle the participants were positioned in a setting which could ideally offer them a through-way from pre-vocational studies to university or apprenticeships, in actual reality this opportunity was not granted for many participants. This was exacerbated by the fact that this qualification held lowered academic status. It is on this basis that I argue for a revamp and restructure of the educational framework so that it integrates and position pre-vocational courses as the first formal rung of qualifications.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Originally from South Africa, Dr. Cornish has both national and international academic and professional qualifications in Social Work, Criminology, Sociology and Education. Her research interest focuses on the Sociology of Education, NEET youth, Race and Social Work. She is currently employed by the University of East Anglia (UEA) as Lecturer in Social Work, Admissions Director for Sociology and SWK Lead for the SNSW Teaching Partnership.
Uncontrolled Keywords: functional skills,bksb,further education,disengaged youth,neoliberalism,employability
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Social Sciences > School of Social Work
UEA Research Groups: Faculty of Social Sciences > Research Centres > Centre for Research on Children and Families
Depositing User: LivePure Connector
Date Deposited: 04 Sep 2021 00:06
Last Modified: 07 Mar 2024 09:32
DOI: 10.1080/0309877X.2021.1945001


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