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.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

PISA and Education Reform.

PISA and Education Reform.

This is an excellent discussion, as it covers the purpose of change and the strategic processes employed to gain achievement. The discussion also highlights the need of countries to make reform. PISA is a reflective tool which countries can validate against and use to make reform.
Australia is different to Finland and as this discussion implicitly identifies – as the world changes nations need to reform their approach to education. It could be that Finland got it right for an era the Industrial era (which the PISA testing methods are tied). It may not be suitable for the incoming era.
I am more focussed on the relevance of PISA to a country and the influences of standardized testing - than whether Finland’s education system is better than Australia’s.
Australia and Finland are significantly different countries. Australia is growing faster than Finland in gross domestic product, population, and the % of foreign-born residents. Australia spends less on education and has a significantly lower suicide and unemployment rate.
My observation is that the demographics of Australia is more complex (GDP, population, size of country and distance between cities), is more optimistic (unemployment and suicide rates) however is spending less on (percent of GDP) education. The relationship of education and societal needs are different but it does require both countries to identify the reform required to advance and improve quality of living. Australia has responded to the falling PISA rankings through the Digital Education Revolution reform. Finland found discovered that the PISA rankings validated their reforms back in the 1970s.
Reference data
Some differentiating differences - (World bank data 2014)
Australia, Gross domestic product: 1980 $149.8 billion, 2012 $1.5 trillion
Finland, Gross domestic product: 1980 $53 billion, 2012 $250 billion
Australia: 1980 14.6 million, 2012 million
Finland: 1980 4.9 million, 2012 5.4 million
% of foreign-born 2013 (wikipedia)
Australian: 2013 foreign-born residents 27%
Finland 2013 foreign-born residents 5.4%
Public spending on education, total (% of GDP)
Australia 5.9%
Finland 6.8%
Unemployment (Google live data)
Australia (2014) 6%
Finland (2014) 8.5%
Suicides per 100,000 people per year (wikipedia)
Australia 10 (2011) ranked 50th
Finland 16 (2012) ranked 21st
Up to the 1970's Finland's Education service was not suitable to the needs of a transitioning society (agrarian to industrial) – few students were taking higher education or vocational eduction paths.Finnish parliament voted to reform education and by 1971, the new comprehensive school system was being rolled out across Finland (Quince). There was significant resistance to the reform which contested the movement to a more decentralised system, flexible personalised learning and no standardised exit testing. The criticism lasted right up until the first PISA results, in 2001(Quince). The PISA rankings validated the 30 years of reform (1971 to 2001).
The Rudd Gillard Digital Education Revolution (DER) reform (2007) was partially a reaction based on the PISA rankings (literacy, numeracy and science) and the demands of what was described the arrival of the global knowledge era. The reform spending budget $2.4 billion initiated the Australian Curriculum, a significant laptop rollout, $40 million into online curriculum resources, the creation of National Professional Standards – Teacher and Principal, NAP LAN, My School and the starting point for high levels of school autonomy.

Going by Finland's story, the Australian Digital Education Revolution reform will face considerable criticism. The outcomes of the reform may take 10 to 20 years to show against the Pisa rankings. The risk Australia faces are 10 to 20 years of counter reforms. What I get out of the Finnish story is that Australia needs to be brave enough to maintain reform and resist counter reform based on PISA score rankings. PISA could become a dynamic and reactive decision making tool.  

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Is education a global competition?

Readings: Is education a global competition?
 Australia's schools are failing and are behind other countries across the globe. Jo Tovey from the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper reports on the PISA 2009 results for Australia. Does this impression of global competition mean that Australian teachers and students are in a global race?
Tovey's report identifies a reason for Australia's performance relative to other nations and highlights growing inequalities between rich and poor as a reason for Australia's ranking.
Does this impression of global competition mean that Australian teachers and students are in a global race?

This question is complicated as it pre-states an assumption based on problem identification and action. I am not sure what percent of teachers are aware of the PISA rankings, what percentage are aware of the PISA rankings whilst programing and delivery of service and what percent of teacher take direct action based on PISA rankings, but I am sure Australian teachers want to improve their professional practice.

Teaching is an overwhelming complex profession firmly based on the dynamics of in-your-face and mind interaction. The classroom is about managing large numbers of micro decisions per hour. As an administrator I make less decisions per day. It is far from an accident ward, but it is further away from a lecture room in a university. By the end of a day teachers I work with are both exhilarated and exhausted by the dynamics of a classroom. I view classroom dynamics more as a small workshop with 25 to 30 bodies and minds busily working away on multiple tasks. The classroom is not a sweatshop, but it is space of intense activity with a large number of bodies and minds.

I also find teachers are conscious of their professional practice and are keen to improve, innovate and alter programs to suit the needs of their students. In short Australian teachers are determined to improve learning standards, but I believe improvement is based on professional values rather than external competition. In a sporting sense teachers are not watching the clock or score board as they focus on their play. I am a firm believer in Hattie’s Visual Learning where improvement in practice can improve student-learning achievement.

Schools have been a function of competition as long as the Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR) has existed. The pursuit of ‘gold’ through ATAR scores can influence a school’s prosperity and status. The myschool site based on National Assessment Programs results could be influencing where young parents reside and the number of students moving from public to private schools. This could be affecting the  socio-economic gap between schools. I can assume that PISA results are not instigating a migration of students from Australian to Shanghai, however it could slow down the intake of students within International Schools programs from specific East Asian countries.

If anything, the competition belongs as the responsibility of the Federal Education Minister, State and Territory Education Ministers and Departments of Education (within the operands of our political structures). They are the authorities that have operational spending and decision-making powers to enact change in the best interest of Australia, and Australian states and territories. They provision and enable future strategic directions. It is the people of Australian and states and Territories whom collectively rise to the needs of the future.
  • Education doesn’t just belong to teachers, principals or schools. It belongs to the communities and societies of Australia.
  • Teacher’s core business is not to construct learning programs based on external test scores, however it is society’s prerogative to design the future through education.

As a Territorian educator the PISA results indicate a significant gap between indigenous and non-indigenous achievement results. The article promotes tied funding (Gonski) as the key to close this gap. The article discredits the fundings to the Northern Territory as it is not based on disadvantage. 

It concludes with this statement ‘There is now a real and well-founded fear that this new disparity between the way different states will fund schools - ''Gonski'' and ''non-Gonski'' - will only exacerbate the inequalities between them, as students in rural indigenous schools in the Northern Territory attract less funding than those in NSW, perhaps helping to compound the existence of many ''Australias'' for decades to come’ (Tovey 2013). The statement links funding with achievement and highlights the power of strategic directions within federal, states and territories educational bodies. 

If the article is correct the Federal Government has allocated funding that is strategically defined by global standing (PISA) and is using this global standing to influence states and territories. As states and territories initiate future funded programs, teachers and students are intrinsically entwined within what is ‘the global competition’.
  • Yes. Australian teachers and students are entwined within a global race?

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Globalization of Eductation


The following discussion is based on personal understandings in association with the significant changes occurring under the term Globilization. The statements are personal and represent no Institution, Department or Organization.

What does this mean for people in their lives?
As an administrator who has focussed on implementing change I found the above readings fascinating. One of 'first-messages' to instigate change is to communicate urgency. However, sustaining urgency is another issue. The possibility of slipping behind is a national threat and like any organizational body (whether large or small) finding the problem and enacting on it is critical. Whether the right problem and most effective action is selected is another problem. The STEM argument employs a heavy dose of urgency. Whether it can be whole government is a sustaining question.

This is an era of rapid change where change is cyclically fastening. The 'emergence' is a threat to the controller/dominator. As competitive bodies emerge the dominator/controller enacts. If something is cheaper, provides a better service, and is easier to access and use, that 'something' will attract clients. Attracting clients is perhaps easier to achieve than creating clients. Attracting students from emerging nations is a responsive process to ensure the 'emerger' doesn't become the dominator and reverse attract. If Australia's best students (on mass) start to view Malaysian, Singapore and Hong Kong Universities as the best option for their careers local Universities will need to restructure their product.

I am interested in some of the discussions that have occurred whilst the Australian Cricket Board lost influence as India gained controlling influence of International Cricket. Once Australian Rules Football was – 'football meatpies, kangaroos and holden cars'. With the emergence of International Football (soccer) in Australia this once sacred artifact is restructuring its mantra.

Australian political and business sectors are moving faster, operating and seeking new opportunities within global socio-economies than what its general population recognizes. The general population's recognition of this global transition is the demise of manufacturing, the growth of online shopping, the amount of 'foreign' fruit and veggies in our supermarkets, foreign ownership of once were national icons and semi skilled jobs. The recognition is not that Australia is restructuring and that what was once cultural symbols and identifying artifacts maybe no-longer relevant. This restructure is an action triggered by Federal Government decisions and it is struggling to manage the rolling and predicted and unpredictable outcomes. The rise of racism in Australia is a concern. The bashing of Indian and Asian students could have been predicted, but unfortunately University Institutions, Federal and State Governments, and local councils took no premeditated action. Responsive systems do not rely on reactionary measures. Opportunistic decisions need to include processes that protect socio values and ethics of clients (in this case International Students).

What will this mean for education and training?
Australian Education and Training is stagnant and at the same time rapidly changing. CEOs, Senior Corporate Directors, District Managers and Principals are aware that change needs to occur. Some innovative teachers are more or less going it alone. The Australian Professional Standards for Teachers and Principles refer to the need to instigate and employ innovative learning programs. In 2001 Prensky announced to the world that the students of the day are different. Our student clients have grown up learning through technology. They are learning through digital technologies from home and not at school. Schools on the large are maintaining practices mannered by the 1950's. Instead of a chalk and talk it is photocopy and talk. Students are still the passive listeners and teachers the active believers. Hattie discusses this - teachers controlling instruction and students controlling learning. This I believe is the link pin for change in K-12 education.

I am amazed by the resilience and the general strength of tendering to the status quo. Schools demonstrate a fortress of resistance to the restructuring forces of globalization. International Students illustrated within 'Global Student Mobility in the Asia Pacific' are basically delivered the same conditions as Universities has always delivered. The arrival of significant International Student numbers has not affected policy, procedures or product. They are still students. Their space is in the continuation of the student-teacher relationship paradigm. The International Students are subservient to the expert teacher. This teacher student relationship (controller and controlled) is the linchpin to the globalization restructure of Education and Training.

In reference to Australian Rules Football, Paul Roos (coach of Melbourne and ex-coach of Sydney) once mentioned that throughout his entire playing career he never once asked for tactical advice by his coach. Leadership in League Teams has significantly changed to accommodate the 'player voice' and increase tactical influence. He is now recognized as a leading coach within the league. The emergence of the student as a client is significant. Educational and Training departments, institutions and organizations need to restructure the student teacher paradigm. The biggest challenge is to remove welfare dependency from the relationship and include client and service processes, that include socio relevant values and ethics based agreements. This will become increasingly important as educational deliverers and private business partners to provide services. Transitioning teaching and learning practices to operate within global conditions is the primary urgency. It assumes a higher priority to that of specific subject domains.

What does it mean for you?
The globalization of education influences my perspective of service and delivery. It requires incorporating new behaviors and the dropping of old behaviors. I consider myself more as an innovator than a gatekeeper. The concern I have is the capacity to sustain innovation within the administrative structures of education. It is obvious that innovation should be evident in all hierarchical structures. My observation is that innovation is weak at the core and strong on the edge of most learning organizations. Gatekeepers are most evident within the core, and innovators are most obvious on the edge. 

When a leadership decision is made to innovate strategic direction it is often actioned by the innovators who are on the edge of core business and those who are operating within the core enact little change. When threatened gatekeepers can passively resist and actively resist.This is highlighted by the displayed behaviors within 'Global Student Mobility in the Asia Pacific'. Teachers ignore the needs of International Students, and at times demonstrate hostile and demeaning interactions. The OECD refers to the driver of innovative learning environments as the 'pedagogical core'. If the pedagogical core is resistant to change, decisions to enact globalization will be met with passive and aggressive resistance. The pedagogical core is one aspect I intend to study throughout the coming months.

In regards to the Great Australian Dream – the dream is not over. It is just a hell of a lot more complex. As Australia moves from a welfare embodied– 'she'll be right mate' cultural perspective, opportunities will be grasped. If Australian culture moves from risk aversion to risk management the dream will become more sophisticated and more open to structural change. I think Australians have the capacity to become global citizens. A key step is to step out of the graces espoused through our monarchy-constitutional basis and become a republic. This is the symbol that would assist our transnational place of being and influence our vision and artifacts of behavior.