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Academic Programmes

The REAL Centre is a space for new researchers to train in various specialities, such as curriculum, sociology of education, policy development and analysis, political economy of education, statistics, and ethnography while contributing to a broader multi-disciplinary research agenda at the same time.

The current research streams in the Centre for Researching Education and Labour include Occupational and Professional knowledge; Economy and Education Relationships; Industrial Policy, Industrial Relations, and Skill Formation Systems; Political Economy of Skill; Vocational Pedagogy; Sectors and Skills; Youth Unemployment; Barriers to Work and Learning; Youth/Work Transitions; Social Inequalities and Labour Markets; Skills to support a green economy and skills for sustainability within work.

MEd specialisation at the Wits School of Education

The Master of Education specialisation in Education and Work is aimed at those interested in improving their insight into education and the economy, education and social and economic development, and education and the world of work. The package is of particular value to researchers investigating these areas, public sector workers, people with experience or interest in working in colleges, conducting ororganising workplace-based training, working in development- oriented NGOs, SETAs, development organisations, or other educational settings, who are interested in the complex intersection of theory and practice around education/work relationships in policy, training, and workplaces.

The MEd comprises three courses:

Education, Skills, and Development

This course will introduce learners to the main debates about the role of education and skills in economic and social development. It will explore the relationship between education, state formation, and patterns of economic growth and social development, as well as relationships between education systems and labour markets, and education and work. It will introduce a range of concepts from the social and political sciences, with a focus on development literature, that assist the understanding and analysis of the relationship between education, learning, and international development in low and middle income countries, as well as a critical interrogation of the role of education in the development of what are now rich countries.

Economic Concepts for Research in Education, Skill Formation and Work

This course introduces students to critical debates in two key aspects of economic theory: development economics and labour market economics. Theories about economic development are crucial to understanding debates and theorisation of the role of education in economic and social development. Theories about how labour markets operate are crucial to understanding how education interacts with labour markets, and the different ways in which education and qualifications are valued by and used in labour markets – the economic returns to education. Key concepts include the labour process, labour power, and the reserve army of labour; Human Capital Theory and alternative theories about the role of education in labour markets; industrialisation, industrial policy, development, and deindustrialisation; historical political economy of the South African labour market during apartheid and today; contemporary issues in labour markets including the national minimum wage, gender, labour markets, and informality.

Knowledge and work

This course aims to develop a critical understanding of the ways in which forms of work organisation impact on understandings of what constitutes socially useful knowledge, why learning should be valued, and where and how knowledge production and learning take place. It will critically consider arguments about the ‘knowledge society’, and the idea that society has entered a new era where knowledge and learning are at the heart of the production process and of global competitiveness, as are new technologies for generating and disseminating knowledge and information. Will most workers need to become more continuous learners in a new knowledge-based economy or will much of their learning be ignored or devalued in relation to their work? Will most workers need to become more continuous learners in a new knowledge-based economy or will much of their learning be ignored or devalued in relation to their work? The course will also critically consider the history of education, skills, and work in South Africa. The course will introduce key concepts with which to think about education and work: division of labour; the labour process; the labour market; diff erent conceptions of ‘skill’; and diff erent conceptions of knowledge.

MEd: Education and Work Applications for 2023