Qualifications: creating or chasing jobs?

Recent figures from the Office for National Statistics reveal the qualifications divide between different parts of England. Subsequent comment has focussed on almost half of people in London (46.7%) holding a degree or similar qualification compared with under a third (28.6%) in areas like the north-east. The percentage in London was considerably higher than in … Continue reading Qualifications: creating or chasing jobs?


Towards a new ‘general intellect’.

A lot has been written about the potential of digital technology and AI to ‘upskill’ the workforce and raise standards of living, but as previous posts have argued, there’s little sign the ‘knowledge economy’ has developed in the way its advocates expected.  Digitalisation and AI have indeed become integral to new types of production. But … Continue reading Towards a new ‘general intellect’.


When they were up they were up. When they were down they were down….

Universities have agreed that the number of candidates awarded first class degrees and 2:1s should be drastically reduced. https://www.theguardian.com/education/2022/jul/05/proportion-of-top-degree-grades-in-england-could-fall-by-nearly-25 Universities UK and GuildHE, bodies representing institutions across the higher education sector, have jointly announced plans to return to pre-pandemic award grade levels. It's reported that the proportion of top degree grades awarded to undergraduates inEngland … Continue reading When they were up they were up. When they were down they were down….


Young people, education and skills:  Nothing new in the ‘Levelling Up’ White Paper

The Levelling Up White Paper adds little to the Tories existing policies designed to 'upskill' young people. Way down in the policies chapter, you’ll find, amongst other things,  proposals to. Create a handful of specialist 16-19 Maths schoolsAllow ‘talented’ 16-year-olds from disadvantaged areas to be fast tracked entries to high performing sixth forms. New ones … Continue reading Young people, education and skills:  Nothing new in the ‘Levelling Up’ White Paper


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

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’?

Stuck in the middle with Williamson

With the economy experiencing a huge downturn, attention has focussed on likely loss of jobs in the hospitality and retail sectors, many of which are considered ‘low skilled’ (as well as disproportionately performed by young people). But according to the OECD’s Employment Outlook  for 2020, In the United Kingdom, new online job postings for middle-skill … Continue reading Stuck in the middle with Williamson

UTCs. Another expensive failure?

What's happened to University Technology Colleges - the 14-19 schools created by one time Secretary of State Kenneth (now Lord) Baker? Citing ‘academic snobbery’ for the failure to establish proper technical education in this country, which he argues has caused skill shortages and contributed to further industrial decline, Baker has established  60 UTCs with  employer … Continue reading UTCs. Another expensive failure?

Can you ever be ‘overeducated’?

New ONS data  shows a third of graduates with more education that is required for the work they were doing 2017. This shouldn’t surprise anybody. Many other studies have reached similar conclusions. What is significant is that rather than focusing on those that have left university in the last few months (many of whom will … Continue reading Can you ever be ‘overeducated’?