Workplaces and Policy Spaces: insights from Third Sector Internships Scotland

Pegg, Ann and Caddell, Martha (2016). Workplaces and Policy Spaces: insights from Third Sector Internships Scotland. Higher Education, Skills and Work-Based Learning, 6(2) pp. 1–19.



Understanding the relationship between learning and work is a key concern for educational researchers and policy makers at the local, national and international level. The way that learning and the economic environment are framed impacts upon policy and funding decisions and has significant implications for the HE sector. This paper explores how internships have become a key site in which policy and funding mechanisms seek to address concerns about graduate employability and graduate skills in relation to Scottish national economic plans and perceived business needs.

Drawing from five years data generated from the Third Sector Internships Scotland programme we adopt an approach to our analysis of policy and internship experiences based on a spatial perspective. We explore two spatial arenas in play; the conceptual space where discussion and policy making occur and the physical places of education and the workplace where learning takes place. We trace shifts in the policy and funding of higher education internship and work placement schemes and consider how these shifts respond to internship experiences of the workplace.

We argue that changes within the conceptual and physical spaces intersect and that identifying contrasts and overlaps helps us to focus on particular questions about how internships develop learning for students.

Taking the national approach within Scotland as a bounded case offers a unique opportunity to explore the ways in which internships have played an increasingly significant place as a pedagogic device operating at the borderlands between educational organisations and the physical spaces of employment.

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