Open Access Journal

ISSN: 2183-2803

Article | Open Access

“The Door You Can Walk Through to Society”: Social Inclusion and Belonging in Vocational Programmes for Immigrants

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Abstract:  This article presents a qualitative, empirical study of two educational programmes for immigrants that integrate language instruction and vocational training. In the context of migration, social inclusion is often conceptualised as access to social capital. Proficiency in the national language is considered key for employment and fast integration into working life has become a primary goal in Swedish migration policies. This article examines the two programmes from the perspective of inclusion into an (imagined) future professional community of practice (CoP), focusing specifically on the participants’ possibilities to invest in a professional linguistic repertoire. The article is dedicated to empirical analyses and positive factors, recognising the need for research. Data consists of interviews with students and teachers, observations, and video recordings of course activities. Organisational aspects of the courses, such as the teachers’ backgrounds and the courses’ proximity to future CoPs, as well as relational aspects of the learning environments, are considered essential for the participants’ inclusion in a future professional CoP. Analyses of the programmes’ content demonstrate that participants are assumed to lack context‐specific, vocational knowledge, including professionally related vocabulary. The article contributes to knowledge on how inclusion can be managed in practice in educational settings for adult immigrants and promotes an understanding of how vocationally adapted courses can assist immigrants in becoming members of a future professional CoP.

Keywords:  adult learning; community of practice; inclusion; migration; second language learning



© Hedda Söderlundh, Maria Eklund Heinonen. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (, which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.