For what purpose…. education?!

For some time now, there has been a myth that has received widespread promotion: that education can help you get a job. Indeed, the general belief for the middle and upper-middle class youth going to university, is that without a degree they won’t be able to get a decent paying job – er – profession.

Part of that myth has been to blame those lacking education or training or skills for economic downturns or skill shortages.

Funny that. At one time, employers used to engage in training. Few do any more. Sure, they complain to the government that they don’t have enough skilled workers of their own, so please can you (government) bring in some more on temporary work permits?!

They’re less likely to engage in trying to organise and demand better pay and safe working conditions because the government can simply deport them. Employers can decide that they don’t even want to pay them! (You see, it is a lot harder to deport workers that stand up for themselves if they were born and/or raised in your country or have rights of residence or citizenship. Then there are also a few laws that you are meant to follow, such as negotiating with them.)

All aspects of the answers to economic problems are laid at the feet of those with the least amount of power to affect the economy: the workers (except when organised).

Education, however, is meant to be the panacea that solves all the problems created within a system that enables employers to pay less than a living wage. Result? Even full-time work is no longer a guarantee of getting out of poverty. Is it really a fair and just system, if you are expected to spend most of your time subjected to the directions and control of someone else just to earn enough money to eat and pay your rent (although some do not even provide that)?

But, education itself is not necessarily an answer to solving economic problems nor is it the solution to the lack of job opportunities for young and old, for skilled and unskilled, for educated and uneducated. The fact is is that there are fewer and fewer jobs to match the needs of a growing population and the situation for good jobs is even worse. These are jobs that actually make use of the education, training and skills that people are undertaking in order to better prepare themselves for work.


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Filed under Economics, Education, Work and working conditions

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