ESF funded training for unemployed women : policy aims and implementation
The European Social Fund (ESF) provides funding for vocational training projects for unemployed women aged over 25. This research traces the development of ESF policies and interpretations from within the European Commission and the British government from 1958 to 1993. The position of women within the European and British labour markets provides the basis of the evaluation of the ESF's aim to increase employability through training linked to the needs of the labour market. The study is based on a gender, class and race analysis from within a perspective of British socialist feminism. The research follows an inductive, essentially grounded-theory method of research, where each stage is determined by the emergent dominant category of the previous stage. There are three stages: firstly, interviews with the women 'workers' on an ESF funded vocational training project for unemployed women. The non-traditional manual skills training provision was typical of many such projects throughout the 1980s. Secondly, a document based study of policy documents and interpretations. The third stage concentrates on the position of women within the European and British labour markets. The finding is that working-class women are trained for occupations of continual decline, and are not trained for the growth occupations of new technology. Neither are they trained towards improving their hierarchical position. The discourse of equal opportunities emerges as a central theme throughout the thesis, from the case study onwards. The final analysis of its impact on vocational training policy is that equal opportunities policies, whilst providing access to specific non-traditional manual skills, nevertheless, through the inherent lack of class analysis, actually closes or hinders access to other training and employment opportunities, thereby meeting both the needs of capitalism and of patriarchy.