I recently wrote about the 'Global Workforce Crisis' (see here). This issue, from my perspective, is both self-evident, because there is no denying of the age curve, and limited, because there are so many other issues, political, social, environmental and even emotional, that need to be dealt with before we can even start talking about 'workforce crisis'. The world is more than one giant factory, and pursuing problems such as these make us overlook that.
However, it is also equally important, before we indulge into any of those 'soft' aspects of the Workforce crisis, to appreciate how important 'economic growth' really is in the system we live in. Small is beautiful may be a great motto, but in the wider economy, with constant growth, there will be no 'credit'; and without credit, there will be no economy. The economic debate is not about how we can keep things the way they are, but how we can keep moving forward - because the modern economy we have built, depend crucially on our view of the future.
From this limited, economic, perspective, some solutions to the Global Workforce crisis look attractive: Migration is one of them. In a simple supply-and-demand world, where the age curve is turning real nasty in some countries with high level of economic activity, one can't fail to spot other countries, with relatively limited economic opportunities but really promising demographic profiles. However, as we all know, migration has its limits: Just as the industrial economies have started automating and limiting employment, one can't start importing software engineers from other countries without upsetting a lot of people. And, migration of this kind has a domino effect: The narrow right wing politics of the kind we see in Britain is somewhat a direct reaction to migration.
If migration is so difficult, and ultimately self-defeating, how about non-geographical migration, such as offshoring? We already live in the age of global workflows and supply chains, so we may have embraced this solution already. However, we have also tested its limits, as we have seen a wave of near-shoring in the recent past, triggered by a myriad of factors ranging from cultural differences to the knock-on effect of the racial politics triggered by greater geographical migration. However, the biggest reason behind the relative decline of offshoring is automation - we have started replacing the very jobs with robots which we used to offshore - and our workforce crisis is indeed being most acute in the jobs which require human presence.
Similarly, the other solutions to the question of workforce crisis, getting more women in the workforce, or extending the retirement age, have been tested to its limits. The richer an economy becomes, people want to retire early: Indeed, that's a part of the middle class dream. Bringing more women to the workforce, at the time when the working cultures become meaner and the Welfare State all but disappears, may mean lower birth rates and a worsening of the problem.
All of which leads to point to education, both as a means to create a more productive workforce, and an enabler of a value system fit for the 'future', as the key to the solution to the workforce crisis. Despite its common sense appeal, however, we have done little, and in fact done harm, to our education systems and limited its ability to help solve the Global Workforce Crisis.
For example, with globalisation, we have assumed that the world economic system will be modelled along the lines of the old colonial past, some countries will be the source of raw materials - people in this case - whereas the others will do the value-added activities. Accordingly, we have built education systems, rapidly as it happened in the last couple of decades, to train people for process-based, lower in the value chain jobs, in the countries with large population, precisely the jobs that we may not need once the automation sets in.
We have also systematically destroyed or underfunded the public education system in most countries. Particularly in Higher Education, the effect would have been disastrous. The For-Profit alternatives that we are so much in love with, by nature, focuses on the immediate needs of the market rather than taking a long view, as they must prove the 'pay-out' for the rip-off they are; this, in turn, means training people narrowly, and indeed, not preparing them for the changing workplaces.
Some governments, like India's, have responded to the 'workforce crisis' precisely the wrong way, by taking a rear-window view and framing policy, and directing public investment, to train people for jobs that do not exist anymore. India's 'skills initiative', which is all about preparing people for low-end work, is based on a tired, static view of the world, and was outdated at the very moment of its conception. At the same time, the country allowed its higher education system to degenerate, and its public school system to disappear.
For me, the talk of Global Workforce Crisis highlights an urgent review of these educational approaches. The key question perhaps is how does one prepare a large number of people with the creative and imaginative abilities, traditionally assumed to be reserved for the privileged, at a low cost. This flies in the face of all the educational assumptions we have made in the past, and even upsets the world view that we have entertained over past few centuries. Yet, this must be done, because otherwise we would wreck our future under the weight of our mindsets of the past.
Popular posts from this blog
A friend has recently forwarded me a quote from Lord Macaulay's speech in the British Parliament on 2nd February 1835. I reproduce the quote below: "I have traveled across the length and breadth of India and I have not seen one person who is a beggar, who is a thief. Such wealth I have seen in this country, such high moral values, people of such calibre, that I do not think we would ever conquer this country, unless we break the very backbone of this nation, which is her spiritual and cultural heritage, and, therefore, I propose that we replace her old and ancient education system, her culture, for if the Indians think that all that is foreign and English is good and greater than their own, they will lose their self-esteem, their native self-culture and they will become what we want them, a truly dominated nation." The email requested me to forward me to every indian I know. I was tempted, but there were two oddities about this quote. First, the language, which
Introduction : The Business of Gift Giving Business gift giving has always been common and contentious at the same time. Business gifts are usually seen as an ‘advertising, sales promotion and marketing communication medium’ (Cooper et al , 1991). Arunthanes et al (1994) points out that such gifting is practised usually for three reasons: (a) in appreciation for past client relationships, placing a new order, referrals to other clients, etc.; (b) in the hopes of creating a positive, first impression which might help to establish an initial business relationship; and (c) giving may be perceived as a quid Pro quo (i.e. returning a favour or expecting a favour in return for something). The practitioners of gift-giving generally argue that doing business is often an aggregation of personal interactions and relationships, and gift-giving should be seen as a natural way of maintaining and enhancing these relationships. ‘Business gifts, especially one given in the course of the festive s
Buzzwords have disadvantages. Right now, experiential learning is one, and that means we put the label on everything and it stops to mean anything. Also, this means reasonable conversation about experiential learning becomes difficult - at times such as this, either you preach experiential learning or you are traditional, antiquarian and hopelessly out of touch. But, overlooking the limitations of experiential learning can cause big problems. Experiential Learning does many things - putting practice at the heart of learning is an important paradigm shift - but not everything, and it is important to be aware what it does not do. Usually, we equate the terms Project-based Learning (the method) with Experiential Learning (the idea) and Learning from Experience (the ideal), treating them as one and the same and using the terms interchangeably. Any talk about distinctive meaning of these terms is usually seen as pedantic, but really represent very different ideas about education.
Today, Helen Goddard, 26, a highly popular music teacher of a City School for Girls, has been sentenced to 15 months in prison. Her crime was to carry out a year long lesbian affair with one of her pupils, who appeared in the court and admitted that the affair was consensual and it was she who pressured Helen into the affair. For Helen, a bright musician and a devout Chistian, this is an extraordinary lapse of judgement. Also, she was teaching in the £13,000 private girls only school in London. She was surely aware what the consequences of her action will be. The fact that she still could not stop herself tells us that lovers do not always act rationally, something we always knew. There is more in this affair than personal tragedies. For a start, this has all the dramatic elements: a bright, beautiful teacher more in Julia Roberts mould [as in Mona Lisa Smile], a stiff upper lip school [not unlike Wellesley] and a story like Notes On A Scandal with an added twist. Indeed, Helen
In most societies today, making profits are accepted as moral, if not especially praiseworthy. This was not as obvious as it appears today – people used to be embarrassed about making a profit not so long ago. Crazy as it seems today, it is worth thinking why it was so. Profits, as economists will put it, is the reward for risk-taking, for putting a business enterprise together in the pursuit of an objective. In this definition, remember, profits are not what it is commonly understood to be – the gross middle-line towards the bottom – but a figure net of entrepreneur’s earning [wages for his labour], dividends and interests on borrowed capital, and provisions for building and other physical assets [a sort of rent, offsetting what these assets could have earned if leased out]. This pure profit – surplus – accrues to a business as a reward to its organisation, for the act of entrepreneurship itself. Economists were divided on how this surplus comes about. The conventional wisdom was,
Introduction Erna Petri née Kürbs, a farmer’s daughter from Herressen in Thuringia, arrived in Ukraine with her three year old son to join her husband Horst in June 1942. Horst, an SS leader inspired by Nazi ideologue Dr Richard Walter Darré, settled in the plantation of Grzenda, just outside today’s Lviv, to become a German Gentleman-Farmer. Erna saw Horst beating and abusing the workers in the plantation within two days of arriving there, which was, as Horst explained, necessary for establishing authority. Erna joined in enthusiastically, settling into a combination of roles of ‘plantation mistress, prairie Madonna in apron-covered dress lording over slave labourers, infant-carrying, gun-wielding Hausfrau.’  However, there were clear rules in the plantation, and Erna was very much expected to play the woman’s role of being a Cake-and-Coffee hostess. When four Jews were caught in the estate while trying to escape from a transport to a death camp, Horst told Erna and her female
Introduction: Hastings in the history of Indian Education Whether or not one includes Warren Hastings in the history of Education in India is a matter of perspective. If writing the history of education means writing the history of schools, the impact of Hastings' administration would be quite limited. If anything, the rapid implosion of local rulers in Eastern, Southern and Northern India during Hastings' tenure had meant a bleak period for the indigenous education system, as patronage and funds would have dwindled away for many of them. The Company administration really concerned itself with the schooling of the natives only after 1813, as Nurullah and Naik rightly pointed out ( see my earlier post ) and one can legitimately start the story at this point. However, if history of Education in India is to encompass the transformation of Indian Scholarship, on which foundation the new, colonial, system of Education would be built, the story must start with Warren Hast
I wrote a note on Kolkata, the city I come from and would always belong to, in July 2010. Since then, the post attracted many visitors and comments, mostly critical, as most people, including those from Kolkata, couldn't see any future for the city. My current effort, some 18 months down the line, is also prompted by a recent article in The Economist, The City That Got Left Behind , which echo the pessimism somewhat. I, at least emotionally, disagree to all the pessimism: After all Kolkata is home and I live in the hope of an eventual return. Indeed, some change has happened since I wrote my earlier post: The geriatric Leftist government that ruled the state for more than 30 years was summarily dispatched, and was replaced by a lumpen-capitalist populist government. Kolkata looked without a future with the clueless leftists at the helm; it now looks without hope. However, apart from bad governance, there is no reason why Kolkata had to be poor and hopeless. It sits right
There is no other city like Kolkata for me: It is Home. The only city where I don't have to find a reason to go to, or to love. It is one city hardwired into my identity, and despite being away for a decade, that refuses to go away. People stay away from their homeland for a variety of reasons. But, as I have come to feel, no one can be completely happy to be away. One may find fame or fortune, love and learning, in another land, but they always live an incomplete life. They bring home broken bits of their homeland into their awkward daily existence, a cushion somewhere, a broken conversation in mother tongue some other time, always rediscovering the land they left behind for that brief moment of wanting to be themselves. The cruelest punishment, therefore, for a man who lives abroad is when his love for his land is denied. It is indeed often denied, because the pursuit of work, knowledge or love seemed to have gotten priority over the attraction of the land. This is particularly
The ‘Why’ Question? Adolf Hitler was appointed the German Chancellor by President Von Hindenburg on 30th January 1933. This was an extraordinary turn of events. Previously, President Von Hindenburg consistently refused to appoint Hitler the Chancellor, despite the impressive electoral performance of NSDAP in July 1932, Hitler’s uncompromising demand of the Chancellor’s post and a repeat election in November 1932 which failed to break the deadlock. Explaining his refusal, Hindenburg wrote in a letter on 24th November, “a presidential cabinet led by you would develop necessarily into a party dictatorship with all its consequences for an extraordinary accentuation of the conflicts in the German people.” The question ‘why’ Hitler was appointed Chancellor, despite the President being acutely aware of what might follow, is therefore a significant one. The NSDAP had election successes throughout 1932, and was already the biggest single party in the Reichstag and various Landtags acros
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.