12: Employability

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Employability covers work in communities and other educational settings to help individuals to move into jobs and other meaningful occupations. This chapter argues that neoliberal ideas about meritocracy, which suggest that individuals have the power to change their circumstances through hard work, training and employment, fail to acknowledge systematic and structural inequality. Increasingly, community workers find themselves working in employability contexts and in ways which are contradictory to the values with which, as practitioners, they identify. The chapter uses case studies and interviews with practitioners to explore how the sector is grappling with these challenges. The chapter suggests that the employability work in which community workers engage must seek to address the many barriers that communities face in securing employment. A more holistic, ethical practice linked to broader ideas about human flourishing is presented through the capabilities approach of Amartya Sen and Martha Nussbaum.

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