After decades of uncertainty about the future of education and work, the global pandemic has further undermined old ideas about post-compulsory education as a route to well-defined occupations and identities. The profound disruption of economic and social life before and during the COVID crisis has summoned up new aspirations for individuals and the world they inhabit; yet it also provides little clarity about educational routes to achieve them.
Post-16 education, which had already begun to shake off its relative obscurity in several countries, has been further propelled towards the top of policy agendas by the recent crisis. Yet it remains unclear whether in the post-COVID world it will be the enabler of a new flourishing of meaningful work and lives in a more sustainable world; or a tool for the imposition of new constraints on such aspirations, with a further narrowing of programmes and practices preparing students and educators alike for unequal, routinised or workless futures.
This session brings together several papers submitted to the BERA Conference in the Post-Compulsory and Lifelong Learning SIG on the eve of the pandemic. The research they report remains strikingly relevant, as important indications of the dilemmas and challenges now facing this educational sphere. They range from the economic context of technologised work(lessness), through the heightening of social inequalities, to the living concerns of both educators and students in this field.