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Key Skills Framework
Enhancing employability within a lifelong learning paradigm

A working paper by the Skills Research Initiative
A prior version of this paper was accepted for presentation at the International Technology Education and Development (INTED) annual conference 2007.

Author - Aidan Kenny, Ray English, Dave Kilmartin

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1. Employability is a contested term. It has been related to: an individual’s capacity to obtain and maintain fulfilling work; the capability to move self-sufficiently within the labour market; and the ability to realise potential through sustainable employment and knowledge, skills and attitude.

2. See EU Commission document, 25/10/2006.

3. Ronald Barnett (1999).

4. National Competitive Council’s report 2005, Ireland.

5. Skills that can be utilised in various different employment sectors; they are generic but sometimes are categorised into soft and hard skills sets.

6. The mainstreaming of this project will include the development of other Key Skills programmes, as Special Purpose Awards located on the NFQ levels 7, 8, 9 and 10.

7. ‘Critical self reflection’ as defined by Barnett (1997: 90–101) is a concept related to critical theory and texts on emancipation, transformation and liberation.

8. The specific, established, academic knowledge domains I explore are sociology, philosophy, psychology and areas of non-specific or fuzzy boundaries such as industrial relations, evaluation and management.

9. Guba and Lincoln (1989) Fourth Generation Evaluation, Claims relate to positive aspects, concern relate to negative aspects and issues to mid ground aspects.

10. Policy shapers are organisations that have reputation currency and the ability to utilise their expert knowledge in terms of research reports to lobby governments and affect the policy formulation process.

11. See Forrier and Sels (2003).

12. The use of student/worker is not intended to depict a linear process of production, student learners for the labour process. We are deliberately non-prescriptive – students/workers can be employees, employers, entrepreneurs, researchers, artists and so forth. In essence the student/worker has the autonomy of choice to decide how and where they apply their employability.

13. For a summary of the approaches taken by France, Germany and other European countries, see Winterton et al. (2006: l).

14. UK Department of Education and Skills (2005).

15. For a critique of the performance indicator approach relating to employability see Morley (2001) and Harvey (2001).

16. The use of ‘techno-rationality’ here is a link to Habermas’ concept of ‘technical rationality’ as a new ideology of work. We also allude here to the possible ‘reification’ of the student as a product for the new organisation of work.

17. See OECD (2006).

18. The employability ‘wish list’ includes items such as loyalty, good sense of humour, compliant, obedience, respect for authority, flexibility, common sense, trusting and so forth.

19. See Forfas (2005).

20. NDP (2007–2013), launched on 22 January 2007, outlines a €183.7 bn investment and five priority areas: economic infrastructure, enterprise science and innovation, human capital and social inclusion.

21. The Enterprise Strategy Group Report (2004).

22. Commission of the European Communities (2005).

23. Social capital and cultural capital as used here relate to the work of Bourdieu.

24. See Patton (1997).

25. This can lead to what Morley describes as ‘underemployment’.

26. Author emphasis. Here we suggest the transition processthat students encounter during their first engagement with work post student life. We do not include part-time work while studying or workers who become students as these are different transition processes.

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