ERIC Number: ED351553
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1992-Nov
Reference Count: N/A
"Their Chances? Slim and None." An Ethnographic Account of the Experiences of Low-Income People of Color in a Vocational Program and at Work.
This paper describes ethnographic research in a community college banking and finance program in the context of the opposing positions of the need for basic skills and preparation for jobs and the need for critical skills and preparation for citizenship in a democracy. After these positions are reviewed, research is described on students in the program, presenting the perspectives of the teacher, employer, and students. The paper argues that, as far as the students in this study are concerned (poor people of color in desperate need of jobs), proponents of basic skills miss the mark, given that such capabilities did not have much to do with whether workers were able to attain, perform, or keep their jobs. Findings are presented that seem to discredit the skills argument. The paper goes on to explain what the real problem might be. It accounts for how and why African-American women from the program were encouraged and helped to take low-level jobs that most of them would quickly lose, by investigating how students, teachers, and employers in this particular context together constructed a career path and work identity for students. The paper illustrates the ongoing struggle between democratizing and reproductive forces and shows reproductive forces winning out. Having suggested that the problem is not basic skills, the paper reexamines arguments for the centrality of critical skills in vocational education. Suggestions are made for reorganization and reform in both the community college vocational program and the workplace. (80 references) (YLB)
Descriptors: Adult Education, Banking, Basic Skills, Blacks, Citizenship Education, Community Colleges, Critical Thinking, Economically Disadvantaged, Education Work Relationship, Educational Change, Educational Experience, Educational Research, Employment Potential, Ethnography, Females, Finance Occupations, Followup Studies, Job Placement, Job Training, Labor Turnover, Program Effectiveness, Program Evaluation, Role of Education, Two Year Colleges, Vocational Education, Vocational Followup, Work Experience, Workplace Literacy
NCRVE Materials Distribution Service, Horrabin Hall 46, Western Illinois University, Macomb, IL 61455 (order no. MDS-155: $5).
Publication Type: Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Sponsor: Office of Vocational and Adult Education (ED), Washington, DC.
Authoring Institution: National Center for Research in Vocational Education, Berkeley, CA.
Identifiers: African Americans