Showing posts from July, 2019

Employability and the whole person

We needed an ugly word like 'employability' because we have a crisis: Despite all the promises and all the efforts, an unacceptably small percentage of people that we educate in our schools and colleges find the employment they expect, aspire for and deserve. Never mind the statistics here. I am weary of it though there are plenty of 'studies' that will confirm the observation above. But the trouble with these studies is they are often motivated, and make big claims based on small efforts. It is easy to make headlines such as 'Only a quarter of engineering graduates in India are employable' but dig deeper and you will see that the basis of that is some executive's offhand remark, which ascribes all the blame to the graduates and their educators but says little about what employability meant in context. Ask the educators and often they don't see what the fuss is about. It's a bit dated, but there was one McKinsey study, perhaps very

The limits of Instructional Design and Higher Education

The venture-funded 'disruptive' higher education start-ups often claim that they can offer a better education than the universities, because, apart from other things, they have great instructional designers. Just like the claim that AI will provide better learning strategies, this is also an attempt to hide behind jargons to avoid hard questions.  Instructional design sounds serious enough to invoke deferential responses, particularly as it's not a common term in academic circles (except in schools of education) and indicates a certain affinity to workplace learning and invoke the holy grail of employability by association. But whether this is good enough to make better education remains to be asked. Instructional design is popular in workplace learning but it's more a method than magic. Besides, for all its advantages, the instructional - process - bit is at the heart of it, rather than what one would make of the term 'design' at this day and ag

The business of employability

Employability training is big business.  As the disconnection between education and work gets wider, the efforts to bridge the gap moves from the fringes of the education enterprise to its centre-stage and even emerges as an independent form of Higher Ed by itself. In fact, making students employable at scale is the most favoured education model for venture capital backing, spawning a range of models and ideas, each claiming to be the ultimate global solution for employability. These global models have failed rather miserably, but new ones still keep coming. This may seem counterintuitive, but this is where ideology trumps rationality and experience. A walk through the graveyard of failed ideas should point towards two key problems: One, that there is no 'global service industry', the foundational assumption of doing employability at scale, and two, that employability, even in its narrowest sense, requires personal transformation, not just acquisition of ski

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