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Labour precariousness and make do and mend after redundancy at Anglesey Aluminium: critiquing Human Capital Theory

Listed author(s):
  • Tony Dobbins


    (Bangor Business School)

  • Alexandra Plows

    (School of Social Sciences, Bangor University)

  • Huw Lloyd-Williams

    (College of Business, Social Sciences and Law, Bangor University)

This paper tracks workers experiences of and responses to redundancy, and the impact on the local labour market, following the closure of a large employer, Anglesey Aluminium (AA), on Anglesey in North Wales. We draw on these findings to produce a critical challenge to Human Capital Theory (HCT) and its influence on sustaining neo-liberal policy orthodoxy with its focus on supplying skilled and employable workers in isolation from other necessary ingredients in the policy recipe. We conclude that HCT and associated policy orthodoxy has contributed to market failure. Ex-AA workers faced a paradox of being overqualified but underemployed. Some workers re-skilled but there were insufficient (quality) job opportunities commensurate with the employment they had left. In picking up the pieces following redundancy, many workers found themselves part of an expanding labour precariat with little choice but to make do and mend.

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Paper provided by Bangor Business School, Prifysgol Bangor University (Cymru / Wales) in its series Working Papers with number 12007.

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Date of creation: Jun 2012
Handle: RePEc:bng:wpaper:12007
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  1. Ewart Keep & Ken Mayhew, 2010. "Moving beyond skills as a social and economic panacea," Work, Employment & Society, British Sociological Association, vol. 24(3), pages 565-577, September.
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