This small-scale, highly original study connects themes which are rarely explored in relation to each other, particularly in a European context: vocational education and training (VET), refugees and race equality in order to explore how VET policies impact on racial equality, and the ways racial structures in Europe impact on VET. It begins to fill important gaps in cross-European research, firstly around VET and race, and secondly around refugees and VET. The paper is based on a study which examined the meso-social benefits of, and barriers to VET for adult refugees to European countries, commissioned by CEDEFOP, the agency funded by the European Commission to promote the development of VET in the European Union. In the paper, we argue that a key factor in shaping refugees’ experiences of VET, are the racial structures integral to capitalist societies. Innovatively drawing on key literature which analyses white privilege in the labour market to contextualise our findings, we suggest that barriers faced by refugees are potentially related to structures of white privilege which shape notions of work and workers in Europe and sustain racial hierarchies.

DOI: 10.1080/13636820.2014.922114
ISSN: 1363-6820