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Youth joblessness falls but uncertainties continue

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

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Tories higher education strategy goes off the rails?

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?

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This week’s results. Just another dose of ‘grade inflation’?

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’?

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Huge opposition to defunding BTECs

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

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More learning means more earning? Comments on some recent literature

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

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A-levels. Not as golden as they once were

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

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BTEC funding facing the chop?

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?

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Reforming the upper secondary curriculum

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

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FE White Paper critiques

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

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A Job guarantee scheme not ‘Kickstart’

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’

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‘Closing the gap’—education and social mobility.

 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.

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Williamson’s White Paper: ‘Skills Without Jobs’?

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’?

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Student resistance grows, but real alternatives still needed for the Covid Generation

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

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Labour and the economy.

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.

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Review: Aaron Benanav, Automation and the Future of Work

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

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The covid crisis will lead to increased automation

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

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Spending Review: how should Labour respond?

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?

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Should university admission procedures be changed?

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?

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Covid and the furlough – new types of green jobs, backed by automation is the way forward.

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.