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Just Enough Education to Perform? Learner and tutor discourses around labour market activation (LMA) at the Dublin Adult Learning Centre (DALC)

Author Kiera Ross, Lisa Moran
Abstract This paper reports on a study, based in the Dublin Adult Learning Centre (DALC), to identify tutor and learner discourses around the impact of Labour Market Activation policies on adult learners and educators. The global recession continues to have a significant impact on people living in Ireland, particularly in relation to unemployment. The States policy responses to unemployment have had two principal dimensions: stimulus on the demand side through incentives for job creation and on the supply side through education and training, with particular emphasis on the longterm unemployed. Research has been conducted to explore how unemployment is experienced; however, there is a dearth of qualitative research at Irish and European levels on the perceptions of people involved in LMA programmes. The situated nature of policy interventions points to the value of lay knowledge; this paper argues that adult learners undertaking education programmes and tutors, who deliver them, can contribute positively to the policymaking process as co-creators of this knowledge. Focus group interviews were conducted to capture interactions between learners and tutors and the (re)construction of LMA through discourse. The findings suggest that finance rather than education is the primary concern of the students engaged in LMArelated learning, although skills development is considered important. In addition, they point to underlying tensions caused by differences in assumptions, expectations and knowledge between actors within Irish governance structures and communitybased agents. The study argues that tutors and learners should have a voice in policies which target the low-skilled unemployed via pedagogical intervention.
Keywords Education, labour market activation, policy, discourse,
Published In ICEP Proceedings
Year 2014
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