This month’s labour market statistics continue to confound many. It’s clearly a case of ‘jobs, jobs, jobs’ though it’s probably still too early to properly assess the affects of the end of furlough and the number of ‘zombie jobs’ - the statistics cover the three month period before. Nevertheless unemployment is now at 4.3%, falling … Continue reading Jobs, jobs, jobs?
Phil Jones . Work without the Worker. Labour in the Age of Platform Capitalism (Verso 2021) This readable and informative book explores the abusive nature of crowd-working platforms such as Amazon’s Mechanical Turk and its emulators. Here under the banner of 'technological progress', extreme forms of exploitation have developed and a new generation of ‘micro-workers’ has emerged. Forced … Continue reading Review: The Automation debate
To help tweak the “skills revolution” Chancellor Sunak will provide £1.6 billion for 16-19 education. Though much less than college bosses have called for, a large amount of this will be funding for 100,000 16- to 19-year-olds studying for T-levels, the new and controversial technical-based qualifications launched in three vocational areas in September 2020 at the height of the … Continue reading ‘Skills, Skills, Skills’ – Sunak’s £1.6 billion for the T’s.
Like almost all of his efforts to shore up support amongst his own supporters, Boris Johnson’s ‘Skills, Skills, Skills’ speech at the Tory Party Conference was little more than rhetoric. Even if unemployment continues to fall, there isn’t a jobs boom and there’s not the slightest chance that the UK will become the high skilled, … Continue reading ‘Skills, Skills, Skills?’
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Yesterday's ONS labour market figures show unemployment down to 4.6%, falling from 5.5% at the height of the pandemic, with over a million vacancies. Young workers have been the hardest hit with the 16-24 unemployment rate reaching almost 15% by September 2020, but this is now also falling - down to 12.9% in the May-July … Continue reading Youth joblessness falls but uncertainties continue
The pandemic has caused a serious crisis for Tory higher education policy. Wanting the university sector to be restricted to ‘the few’, or at the very least, highly stratified, with the right students in the right institutions, Conservative governments have tried to establish an alternative vocational route for young people by introducing new ‘technical’ qualifications … Continue reading Tories higher education strategy goes off the rails?
As A-level results are officially published, media platforms have already prepared the ground for another round of grade inflation. Anxious to do the best for their students, teachers will inevitably ‘mark up’. So more young people will get higher grades and top universities (those that ‘select’ rather than ‘recruit’) will be under pressure to accept … Continue reading This week’s results. Just another dose of ‘grade inflation’?
The DfE has published the results of the latest ‘consultation’ on its proposals for Level 3 post-16 qualifications. government_responseDownload In reality this has been a limited exercise. Academic qualifications were always going to remain in their current form, with A-levels continuing to be the main route into HE. But the government has already decided that … Continue reading Huge opposition to defunding BTECs
Education is widely considered to have a significant influence on the general performance of the economy, as well as on an individual’s returns in the labour market. In contrast to the physical assets of an enterprise, education is regarded as ‘human capital’. Because educated workers add more value, then according to this logic, the more … Continue reading More learning means more earning? Comments on some recent literature
In Post-16 Educator 104 http://post16educator.org.uk/ Created to replace the Higher School Certificate in 1951 and with only 3% of the cohort sitting them, A-levels continued to be elite or ‘gold standard’ qualifications, educationally narrow, with universities having a major influence over their syllabus content. Until 1953 A-levels were only graded as pass or fail, at … Continue reading A-levels. Not as golden as they once were
Eleven organisations including most of the teacher unions and the NUS have issued a statement warning of government plans to cut funding for vocational qualifications that overlap with the new T-levels. In particular there’s concern about the future of the tried and trusted BTEC qualifications. 0621-joint-position-statement-on-agqs-final1-1Download Of course the old-style teacher assessed BTEC qualifications no … Continue reading BTEC funding facing the chop?
With the 'Lost Generation' now being superseded by the 'Covid Generation', I've rewritten the 2012 E-book 'Why young people can't get the jobs they want or the education they need' Download the latest version why-young-peopleDownload
Until relatively recently, discussion about an alternative curriculum for 14-19, the upper secondary years bloomed, with a variety of initiatives promoting either ‘over-arching’ certificates to link and equate academic and vocational learning, or even their full integration in a general diploma. Yet maybe a certain weariness was already creeping in, not helped by the fact … Continue reading Reforming the upper secondary curriculum
Read my contribution Another round of vocational qualifications won't create good jobs pse-allenDownload along with other critiques of the Further Education White Paper in the latest edition of Post 16 Educator http://www.post16educator.org.uk Download Martin Allen & Patrick Ainley's Skills without Jobs? The Further Education White Paper and beyond skills-without-jobsDownload
Faced with the threat of a huge rise in youth unemployment in the final quarter of 2020, Chancellor Sunak set up Kickstart. Providing £2billion funding to create sixth month job placements for 16- to 24-year-olds on Universal Credit who are at risk of long-term unemployment, Employers of all sizes were encouraged to apply for funding … Continue reading A Job guarantee scheme not ‘Kickstart’
This month’s labour market date from ONS shows that if official unemployment has remained at around 5% since the last quarter, the number of people on payroll has plunged by 693,000 since the start of the pandemic, with younger workers under the age of 25 accounting for 60% of the jobs lost since February 2020. … Continue reading The furloughed economy
The fight for ‘equal opportunities’ has been a major aim of education reformers and campaigners. A fairer education system has also been considered integral if ‘social mobility’ is to be increased. But for years, researchers have reaffirmed the importance of social background and social origin on school performance, arguing that ‘education cannot compensate for society’. … Continue reading ‘Closing the gap’—education and social mobility.
The much-awaited White Paper skills-for-jobs-lifelong-learning-for-opportunity-and-growthDownload has been published this week. It's a long and tedious read, but here's an initial response. Rather than just summarising the contents, it seeks to provide some context. Almost every serious analysis of changes in the occupational structure at the start of the 21st century recognises an increased polarisation of … Continue reading Williamson’s White Paper: ‘Skills Without Jobs’?
See articles from latest edition at http://post16educator.org.uk/ Post-16 Educator Issue 102, January to March 2021 Winter has closed in on the ‘CovidGeneration’. Youth unemployment continues to creep up, with over 10 percent of 18-24 year-olds not in full-time educationofficially out of work in the period August to October2020, and another 15 per cent categorised as‘economically … Continue reading Student resistance grows, but real alternatives still needed for the Covid Generation
What should we make of Anneliese Dodd’s first big speech, last week, on Labour’s economic policies? The Financial Times (Jan 13th) considered it part of the process of making Labour more ‘responsible’, while parts of the Corbynista press have framed it as yet another example of the Party’s ‘move to the right’. They cite Dodd’s … Continue reading Labour and the economy.
Verso 2020 Aaron Benanav is becoming a cult figure with parts of the Left. His short, but intriguing book sets out to refute arguments that capitalist economies are experiencing profound changes in the production process because of automation. Rather than a Second Machine Age or a Fourth Industrial Revolution creating a new ‘technological unemployment’, the … Continue reading Review: Aaron Benanav, Automation and the Future of Work
As this nifty little chart, courtesy of the FT shows, despite denials, the government has been doing what it said it would never do. The huge increase in borrowing needed to support the economy during the Covid crisis, largely equates with the amount of public debt bought back by the ‘independent’ Bank of England. Whereas … Continue reading Shaking the magic money tree
If it’s been a bad year for education, it’s been a terrible one for 18-year olds. At the end of March, thousands were suddenly informed that summer A-level exams were cancelled and that alternative arrangements would be put in place. Released from the worry and stress that these exams inflict, students were left to sit … Continue reading A terrible year for 18 year olds
An increasing amount of literature predicts a Jobless Future, because of automation and AI - with the Bank of England recently estimating that 40% of current jobs – including some considered to be ‘professional’ could be lost in the next few decades, a result of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, or a Second Machine Age. Yet … Continue reading The covid crisis will lead to increased automation
According to the Chancellor and the OBR, the UK is facing an economic contraction of 11.3 per cent this year, the largest fall in output for 300 years - representing an ‘economic emergency’. The OBR is forecasting a surge in unemployment to 7.5 per cent in the second quarter of next year when Covid job … Continue reading Spending Review: how should Labour respond?
The government has announced that it will review higher education admissions to improve social mobility. Gavin Williamson says the current admissions system penalises bright pupils from more disadvantaged backgrounds. While the overall trend is for grades to be over-predicted, Institute of Education research says that socially disadvantaged students are likely to be marked down. The … Continue reading Should university admission procedures be changed?
Writing about industrial capitalism over 150 years ago, Marx thought that the replacement of workers by machines would be a consequence of increased competition and the push to restore the rate of profit. This would lead to mass unemployment and increased poverty and misery amongst the proletariat. Yet at least, until now, falls in the … Continue reading Covid and the furlough – new types of green jobs, backed by automation is the way forward.
After spending billions on the Job Support Scheme, Rishi Sunak has now signalled his intention to ‘balance the books’ and reign in government spending, even if the Chancellor was quick to qualify this as being a ‘medium term’ objective – thus hoping to stave off some fears about an imminent return to ‘austerity’. All this … Continue reading Training without jobs