Dr Susan James

Susan James is the Assistant Director of SKOPE and Associate Fellow at Pembroke College, Oxford and St. Anne’s College, Oxford. She is a Visiting Senior Research Fellow at the University of the Witswaterand, Johannesburg, South Africa. She held a Leverhulme Early Career Development Fellowship for 2006-2008.

Susan’s entire career has been in education in various forms: she taught in secondary schools in Australia and England before starting her academic career. Susan completed a B.Ed in her native Queensland and read for a MSc in Comparative and International Education and a DPhil in Education at the University of Oxford.

Research

Susan’s research interests are varied including theories of learning, school-to-work transitions, VET systems and policy, work-based learning, on-the-job and off-the-job training, pedagogy in formal and informal settings, and low skill and low wage occupations. Her interest in vocational education developed while teaching in secondary schools where she recognised the need and importance of vocational subjects for students not interested in a purely academic route. Since completing her D. Phil. and joining SKOPE she has worked on the Russell Sage Foundation project looking at low skill, low wage occupations in the food processing and hotel industries, which culminated in the publication of Low Wage UK. Susan was subsequently part of the European team working on phase 2 of the project comparing the five European countries (Denmark, France, Germany, the Netherlands and the UK) involved in Phase 1 of the food processing industry aspect of the project with the situation in the United States, the research of which was published in Low Wage America. Alongside this, she has been working with Ewart Keep on a project to try to understand the interplay between recruitment and selection practices and government policy. In 2006, Susan was awarded a 2-year Leverhulme Early Career Development Fellowship to undertake her own research. This research involves a comparative analysis of vocational education and training policy of England and South Africa, highlighting the similarities although delivered in completely different social, political and cultural environments.

Funded Research

  • Graduates on the property ladder: Skills, work and employment in a ‘graduatising’ industry, ERSC Small Grants Award (£100,000).

Publications

Books

  • Hayward, G., and James, S. (Eds.) (2004), Balancing the Skills Equation: key issues and challenges for policy, Bristol: The Policy Press.

Book Chapters

  • Bryson, J., James, S. and Keep, E. (2012), ‘Recruitment and Selection’, S. Bach and M. Edwards (eds.), Managing Human Resources: Human resource Management in transition, 5th Edition, London: Wiley.
  • Keep, E. and James, S. (2012), ‘Are Skills the Answer to Bad jobs? Incentives to Learn at the Bottom end of the Labour Market’, C. Warhurst, F. Carre, P. Findlay and C. Tilly (eds.), Are Bad jobs Inevitable? Trends, Determinants and Responses to Job Quality in the Twenty-First Century, Basingstoke: Palgrave.
  • Keep, E. and James, S. (2011), Employer Demand for Apprenticeships in Dolphin, T. and Lanning, T. (eds.), Rethinking Apprenticeships, London: IPPR.
  • Grunert, K., James, S., and Moss, P. (2010), Tough Meat, Hard Candy: implications for low wage work in the food processing industry in Gautie, J., and Schmitt, J. (eds.), Low Wage Work in the Wealthy World, New York: Russell Sage Foundation.
  • Dutton, E., Warhurst, C., Lloyd, C., James, S., Commander, J., and Nickson, D. (2008), Just like the Elves in Harry Potter: Room Attendants in UK hotels in Low Wage UK, New York: Russell Sage Foundation.
  • James, S. (2008), Learning to Cook: Analysing Apprentice’s Knowledge and Skill Construction in the Workplace in Rauner, F. and Maclean, R. (eds.), Handbook of Technical and Vocational Education and Training Research, Germany: Springer.
  • James, S, and Lloyd, C. (2008), Supply chain pressures and migrant  workers: deteriorating job quality in the UK food processing industry in Low Wage UK, New York: Russell Sage Foundation.
  • James, S. (2007), To Cook or not to Cook: Participant observation as a data collection technique in Methodological Developments in Ethnography, 12, Oxford: Elsevier.
  • Hayward, G., and James, S. (2004), Producing Skills: conundrums and possibilities in Balancing the Skills Equation: key issues and challenges for policy, Bristol: The Policy Press.
  • James, S., and Hayward, G. (2004), Becoming a chef: the politics and culture of learning in Balancing the Skills Equation: key issues and challenges for policy, Bristol: The Policy Press.

Refereed Journal Articles

  • Keep, E., and James, S. (2011), A Bermuda triangle of Policy? ‘Bad jobs’, skills policy and incentives to learn at the bottom end of the labour market in Journal of Education Policy, DOI:10.1080102680939.2011.595510
  • Caroli, E., Gautié, J., Lloyd, C., Lamanthe, A., and James, S. (2010), Delivering flexibility: Contrasting patterns in the French and the UK food processing industry in British Journal of Industrial Relations, Vol. 48, No. 2, pp. 284-309.
  • Lloyd, C., and James. S. (2008), Too much pressure? Retailer power and occupational health and safety in the food processing industry in Work, Employment & Society, Vol. 22, No. 4, pp. 713-730.
  • James, S. (2006), Learning to Cook: Production learning environment in kitchens in Learning Environments Research., 9, pp 1-22.

Working Papers and Issues Papers

  • James, S. and C. Holmes 2012. Developing Vocational Excellence: Learning Environments within Work Environments, SKOPE Research Paper no. 112, SKOPE: Cardiff and Oxford Universities
  • James, S., Warhurst, C., Commander, J., Lindsay, K., and Tholen, G. (2011), The Five Obstacles that Hamper Better Understanding of Graduate Labour and Skills, SKOPE Issues Paper 27, May, Cardiff: Cardiff University, SKOPE.
  • Keep, E., and James, S. (2010), What Incentives to Learn at the Bottom End of the Labour Market? SKOPE Research Paper No. 94, July, Cardiff: Cardiff University, SKOPE.
  • James, S. (2010), What is apprenticeship? SKOPE Issues Paper 22, July, Cardiff: Cardiff University, SKOPE.
  • Keep, E., and James, S. (2010), Recruitment and Selection – The Great Neglected Topic, SKOPE Research Paper No. 88, March, Cardiff: Cardiff University, SKOPE.
  • James, S. (2009), The Skills Training Levy in South Africa: Skilling the Workforce or Just Another Tax?, SKOPE Issues Paper 19, May, Cardiff: Cardiff University, SKOPE.
  • James, S. (2007), Adding new ingredients to an old recipe: NVQs and the influence of CATERBASE, SKOPE Issues Paper, Oxford.
  • Hayward, G., and James, S. (2004), Diversity in Learning: Establishing the Cognitive Styles and Learning Strategies of Young People in the Youth Justice System, Oxford: Department of Educational Studies.
  • Oh, S-A., Hayward, G., and James, S. (2002), Alternative Models of Provision Project Working Paper No. 3: Work-related Learning, Oxford: Department of Educational Studies.

Conference Papers

  • James, S., Commander, J., Tholen, G. and Warhurst, C. (2012) ‘Social skills matter: the case of estate agents’, British Sociological Association Annual Conference, Leeds University, UK, 11-13 April.
  • Tholen, G., James, S., Commander, J. and Warhurst, C. (2012) ‘Graduate skills or the skills of graduates, what matters most? An analysis from a graduatising occupation’, 30th International Labour Process Conference, Stockholm, Sweden, 27-29 March.
  • Nokelaninen, P., James, S., Smith, H., Ali Rahimi, M. and Stasz, C. (2012). What contributes to vocational excellence? Characteristics and experiences of competitors in WorldSkills London 2011, World Education Research Association (WERA) Focal Meeting, Sydney, Australia, 2-6 December.
  • James, S., Warhurst, C., Commander, J. and Tholen, G. (2012), ‘Higher Education: Graduate knowledge and skills or finishing school?’, Higher Education: Economic and Social Mobility Roundtable, Oxford University and Adelphi University, 16-18 October 2012.
  • James, S. (2010), What is apprenticeship? Paper presented to the Employers and Education Taskforce Conference, Warwick University, UK, 15th October.
  • James, S., Grunert, K., and Moss, P. (2008). The Food Processing Industry in Europe & the US: some case study evidence, Paper presented for the Society for the Advancement of Socio-Economics (SASE) Conference, San Jose, Costa Rica, 21st-23rd July.
  • James, S. and Keep, E. (2010), Are bad jobs inevitable? Incentives to learn at the bottom end of the labour market, Paper presented for ILP Conference, New Jersey, U.S.A., 15th-17th March.
  • James, S. (2003), Qualifications, Professional Identity and Work-based Learning, Paper presented for RWL Conference, Tampere, Finland, 25th – 27th July.
  • James, S. (2003), Learning to Cook: the Dichotomous Nature of Modern Apprenticeships, Paper presented for AERA, Chicago, U.S.A., 21st – 25th April.

Reports

  • James, S., Warhurst, C., Commander, J. and Tholen, G. (2012), Skills, Work and Employment in the Real Estate Industry, report to AssetSkills, Northampton.
  • Nokelainen, P., Stasz, C., and James, S. (2012), Developing and Understanding Vocational Excellence: individual attributes and characteristics, report to WorldSkills UK, Oxford: SKOPE.
  • Nokelainen, P., Smith, H., Ali Rahimi, M., Stasz, C. and James, S. (2012), What contributes to vocational excellence? Overview of research outcomes from a study conducted at WorldSkills London 2011, WorldSkills Foundation: http://www.worldskillsfoundation.org/downloads/WSF_MoVE_research_overview_WSC2011.pdf

Editorial Review

  • Work, Employment and Society
  • Oxford Review of Education
  • Journal of Vocational Education and Training
  • British Journal of Industrial Relations
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Category

  • Department staff

College affiliation

  • Pembroke College
  • St Anne's College

Position

  • SKOPE Assistant Director

Research groups

  • SKOPE

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