Sunday, March 23, 2014

Surplus of university graduates - academic unemployment

In the fast growing region in the world there is high levels of unemployment of university graduates. India, China, Malaysia and Hong Kong are all experiencing a surplus of university graduates. In China there are over 6 million unemployed graduates and

This has led to a questioning of education standards and the capabilities of the graduates. Business says they do not have the skills for the 21st century.

This has led to a questioning of the value of exam-based learning and the promise of white-collar jobs.

Look at the World Economic forum and scroll down and look at the global dimensions of unemployment for your people.

Educating or unemployment.
The issue of youth unemployment is a significant issue for Australia. According to COAG 25% of Australian youth are caught by unemployment as they transition from education to work. The volatility of work opportunities range between state and territories. It raises the dimensions of mobility on a large continent. One of the benefits of the Australian Curriculum is that mobile families do not have to traverse the often contradictory state managed curriculum requirements. This has been a significant issue for military families. There is also the migration of aboriginal families across Norther Australia and the intersection of South Australian, Western Australia and the Northern Territory. The history of roaming shearers and seasonal workers is etched within Australian folklore. Australia is a significantly large country and internal job mobility should be seen as part of our working culture.

The question of whether our present youth are prepared to travel for work is often  raised. The effort to find work 3000kms away is a big ask – the move away from family, friends and other social activities that make life feel good to a job in a remote location is quite confronting. Many teachers that displace themselves in a remote school experience culture shock and depression aligned to being disconnected. However, as southern states lose their manufacturing basis opportunity is growing in Northern Australia. There is a restructure happening in jobs, location of jobs and what was once called a lifelong job. Our future youth faces a future of mobility caused by employment change.

The question concerning over educating large numbers of youth is related to market demand. At the moment our schools and universities are not responsive to the youth market. To a certain extent most of our youth is making decisions that are not analyzed or considering career potential. This I consider a sleeping bear. Will schools, vocation education and Universities start branding their product by the % of students gaining employment? This is an interesting concept I haven't considered before. It could be included within their well-being package. Overall the situation is a drain on public and private spending. 4 years in a university to work in a semi skilled job is a minimum waste of 4 years and a loss of over $1,000,000 (loss of income, public and public money)(my personal estimation). Bottom line - What could the money be used for if it wasn't wasted on useless courses.

The gap between what the workforce requires and the skills and knowledge taught in schools and universities has seriously widened. I am not sure if the Education  sector have the structural dexterity to adapt in a real time sense to meet the demands of business and employment opportunities. The flexibility on increasing and decreasing course and subject offerings according to the ebbs and flows of employment require a very flexible teacher workforce and content development dollars. 

Perhaps the  expectation delivered to students can be better regulated. From these readings it is apparent that students require higher levels of informed careers advise. This advice should be driven by real data, however this would often contradict the media communications to attract students.  Schools and Universities are also in the business of  'the dream'.  Australia needs youth who enters adulthood with dreams of potential. Dreams are core to creativity. They are essential components of Innovation. This is the essential paradox (The Dream v's realistic career outcomes) as the education industry promises so much and apparently delivers so little.

Zhu Yuewei, 24 - What I learned in school is not related to my work, but I'm a quick learner....

The era of study hard, get a good Yr 12 score, get into a good university may be the path of 30% of students attain a successful career. These students are good with the learning practices associated with academic learning. Those students may gain rewards within the 'knowledge worker' industries and organizations, however most won't.

An editorial in China’s state-run Global Times urged young people to believe “There is nothing to be ashamed if you work with your hands,” warning darkly that “The dream of being a white-collar country will not come to fruition.”

I believe the Education sector needs  to become more hands on and improve student adaptable skills. Enable the skills that can be employed within a wider scope of career opportunities. Get students to making things – build their 'doing' skills. The transition of schools to a 'doing pedagogical core' can be achieved as school by school basis. This will require determined school based leadership.

The global society is moving from a high employment industrial paradigm to a low employed knowledge paradigm. As societies robotise employment opportunities will decrease. More people will rely on innovation and creativity to generate income. I am not sure whether society is prepared for this. It will require a fundamental question based within  the core function of schools.