Employability and Inclusion of Non-traditional University Students: Limitations and Challenges

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Authors:
María Aurora Tenorio Rodríguez, University of Seville, Spain
José González-Monteagudo, University of Seville, Spain
Teresa Padilla-Carmona, University of Seville, Spain
Email: [email protected]
https://doi.org/10.22492/ije.9.1.08

Citation: Rodríguez, M. A., González-Monteagudo, J., & Padilla-Carmona, T. (2021). Employability and Inclusion of Non-traditional University Students: Limitations and Challenges, IAFOR Journal of Education: Inclusive Education, 9(1). https://doi.org/10.22492/ije.9.1.08


Abstract

In recent decades employability has become more visible and is part of the agenda of European universities, leading to a closer link between higher education and the labour market. In this context, the objectives of this study are: to analyse the approach to employability developed by the university; to find out the influence of employability policies on non-traditional students; and the alignment of the development of employability with the democratic mission of the university. Qualitative research has been carried out at one public university in Southern Spain, based on 40 in-depth interviews, undertaken with non-traditional students and graduates, employers, and university staff. The main results obtained are: the employability approach is based on the acquisition of key skills, in the framework of neoliberal policies; the opportunities offered to students to improve their employability are unevenly distributed and, therefore, scarcely available to underrepresented students; and the market-oriented concept of employability damages non-traditional students. The development of the democratic and inclusive role to be developed by the universities requires challenging the policies and practices on employability, that are based on neoliberal perspectives. This involves the visibility of the power relations at stake as well as the promotion of critical and reflective pedagogies, with the aim of questioning and reducing the inequalities faced by non-traditional students.

Keywords

employability, higher education, inclusive education, neo-liberalism, non-traditional students