Immigration, education and the new caste society in Britain

Immigration, education and the new caste society in Britain

Cardiff University

Immigration, education and the new caste society in

We are accustomed to linking education and skill with mobility and
opportunity. In recent education, employment and especially immigration policy in Britain, however, the discourse of education and skill is
being used to create a segregated and inegalitarian society, in which privileges and rights are granted to a small elite while being denied to the rest
of the population. Education and skill, paradoxically, which are supposed
to set us free and empower us are in actuality used to divide, control
and deflect our demands for justice and equality. To address problems
of injustice and inequality in Britain today, for both immigrants and the
native-born alike, we need to challenge the common sense acceptance of
discrimination between the high and low skilled, as well as the hegemony
of the language of skill itself.
Key words: inequality, managed migration, skill, skill-based

Visitors to Britain entering the country recently through Heathrow
International Airport will have been able to see, just past passport
control in Terminal Three, a brightly-lit advertisement from the UK
Department of Trade and Industry. The ad reads: ‘Captains of industry,
billionaire entrepreneurs, movie moguls, Nobel Prize winning scientists, world-changing inventors . . . this way please’. At the bottom of
the advertisement, the British government asks of this elite and select
few: ‘How can the UK help you?’ It is an offer that is quite explicitly
not extended to the rest of us mere mortals on earth. This sign is a small
but telling example of a new social order that is being constructed by
the New Labour government in Britain, in which privileges, rights,
© The Author(s), 2009. Reprints and permissions:
Critical Social Policy, 0261-0183 99; Vol. 29(2): 243 – 260; 101628...

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