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
Nations are ideas. We try to fashion them as territories. But how can a river, a mountain ridge or sometimes an imaginary line in the middle of a field can explain the wide division in the lives, thoughts and futures of the people who live on different sides? Nations are not the people too. Indeed, people build nations and become its body. But the soul of the nation is an idea: People come together on an idea to build a nation. While that's what a modern nation is - an idea - and that way exceptionalism is not an American exception, very few nations are as completely defined by an idea as Pakistan. There was hardly any political, geographic or military rationale of Pakistan other than the idea of an Islamic homeland in South Asia. [In that way, the ideological brother of Pakistan in the family of nations is Israel] This, abated by the short term political calculations of some backroom colonialists, created a modern state which must be solely sustained on that singular idea. Religi
This post is a reaction to Aatish Taseer's evocative obituary of secular India in the Atlantic ( read here ). While I agree with it mostly - and share the reservations about the direction and the future of India - I differ with the author on one key aspect: I do not agree with his portrayal of a resurgent Bharat eating up a secular India. In fact, I believe while Mr Taseer regrets the Indian elite's loss of connection with the realities of day to day life of the country, his very presentation of Bharat and India as oppositional entities stems from that incomprehension. While I understand that he is only using these categories as RSS uses them - to effectively other the English-speaking elites and non-Hindus - I believe it is a mistake to describe the profound changes in contemporary India as the ascendance of Bharat. I grew up in Bharat. I never learnt English until late in life, when I started working. My growing-up world was one of small-town India, vernacu
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 was gui
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
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, as
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
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.
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
The story of British influence on Indian Education, to which Macaulay's Minutes of 1835 belong, has been told in six distinct phases. Syed Nurullah and J P Naik's very popular and influential History of Indian Education calls these 'six acts' of the drama: From the beginning of Eighteenth Century to 1813 The British East India Company received its charter in 1600 but its activities did not include any Educational engagement till the Charter Act of 1698, which required the Company to maintain priests and schools, for its own staff and their children. And, so it was until the renewal of its charter in 1813, when the evangelical influence led to insistence of expansion of educational activities and allowing priests back into company territory. From 1813 to Wood's Education Despatch of 1854 The renewal of Charter in 1813 re-opened the debate, which seemed to have been settled in the early years of the company administration, between the Orientalis
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.