Archive for the ‘Wales Wide Web’ Category

Taccle 2 underway

May 31st, 2012 by Graham Attwell

Many of you signed up on a form here for the first Taccle handbook, on using social software and web 2.0 for teaching and learning. The handbook was written for teachers wanting to introduce e-learning into their practice. There was also a series of training events for teachers based on the handbook. Both the handbook and the courses were rated highly by teachers and the handbook has been translated into some 8 or 9 languages and been reprinted in some countries

However,  feedback from readers and from course participants was that there were still ‘gaps’ that needed to be filled.

The gaps

First, although teachers across the subject range said they found the both the courses and the handbook useful for developing generic technical skills there were many who still found difficulty in translating that into specific learning activities within their subject area or sector.

Second, although many teachers, as a result of reading the handbook or attending the courses, now feel confident about designing learning objects or using web 2.0 applications, they are less confident about engaging pupils in producing and publishing their own. TACCLE 2 addresses these issues by providing a series of 5 supplementary handbooks (in Dutch, English, German, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese and Romanian) written in the same style as the original, around specific subjects.

What Taccle 2 will do

TACCLE 2 for teachers will provide:

  • 5 step-by-step guides to integrating ICT and e-learning in YOUR classroom: primary education, maths, science and technology, key competences, arts and culture and humanities.
  • practical materials and ideas customised for YOUR subject area and pupil age range
  • complementary training courses based on the handbook
  • access to web based materials for e-learning
  • opportunities to join a network of like-minded colleagues across Europe
  • a chance to join in and influence the work of the project as it develops
  • free download of the popular E-learning Handbook for Classroom Teachers produced by the Taccle 1 project
  • signposts to other banks of open educational resources for your subject

We will be publishing examples of some of the work as it is developed on this web site you can follow the development of the project on the Taccle 2 website.

Why Facebook IPO debacle may be good news

May 29th, 2012 by Graham Attwell

The Facebook IPO was very interesting for a number of reasons.

Facebook has managed to screw everybody. Firstly they persuaded us to sign over our data to them and then made a fortune out of selling it to others! And then they sold that model to investors a vastly over-hyped price.

At the end of the day Facebook has little market value, other than selling our data to advertisers. But in this they face three big challenges. The first is to actually get us to buy anything from Facebook ads. OK – I am pretty advert resistant. In fact I don’t actually ‘see’ most adverts. But if I do want to buy something, I certainly don’t go to Facebook. Like mots of us, I guess, I use a search engine. lately I have been using DuckDuckGo for the very reason that it doesn’t track my data, but if I use Google then very occasionally I might look at the sponsored results. More often though, I will buy a travel ticket and then find as a result of Google tracking, Guardian newspaper ads are advertising flight tickets to places I have already bought one for!

But back to Facebook. Their second challenge is getting us all to agree to open up our data. And that means relaxing privacy controls. So Facebook goes through a circle of relaxing privacy – leading to protests – and then having to produce new controls as a result.

But possibly more important in the long run is a commercial problem. Much of the protests around the IPO was that the banks behind the share release gave information to big customers which was withheld from smaller investors. And the main point of this was that Facebook are having problems selling adverts for the mobile version of the social networking site.

My guess is that it is not just Facebook. Whilst we can happily ignore advertising on a big screen, it becomes invasive and annoying on a mobile device. Quite simply users don’t like it.

Since Facebook’s financial model is built on selling targeted advertising and more and more people are using mobile devices to access the site, this is bad news for them. But what is bad news for Facebook (and Facebook investors) may be good news for the rest of us. It may force developers to move away from a model of selling our data to advertisers and look for more sustainable and – dare I say it – more people friendly and socially responsible business models.

 

The one hundred word challenge

May 28th, 2012 by Graham Attwell

Its very encouraging to see the emergence of an increasing number of imaginative primary school websites and blogs.

I love the 100 word challenge from the Kirkheaton Primary School blog. James Roberts writes

I think you should go on the one hundred word challenge because it is a fun way to get yourself writing about anything and everything. Also it is a great challenge because one hundred words is really hard to get, you have to take off words or add words into your writing to get to the magic one hundred .One of the best things about it is that if your writing is good enough, it will be put on the one hundred word challenge website so everybody in great britain will be able to read it and write comments about it.

 

Youth Unemployment in Europe

May 28th, 2012 by Graham Attwell

One of the results of the recession in Europe has been spiralling youth unemployment. VETNET, the vocational education and training network of the European Research Association, is planning a debate around youth unemployment at its annual conference in Seville in September.

As a contribution to that debate, I will be looking at some of the data about youth unemployment.

The main comparative data available is the European Labour Force Survey. and fortunately Google provide access to this data through its excellent Public Data Explorer site. This interactive charts shows the changes in youth unemployment in the different European Member States since 1983.

 

Layering Personal Learning Environments

May 17th, 2012 by Graham Attwell

Continuing  the mini series around PLEs.

In 2008 I wrote:

Early proponents of Personal Learning Environments have tended to divide between those who see Personal learning Environments as a concept and those who have focused on PLEs as an application or set of applications. To a considerable extent this is a false dichotomy.

If it is accepted that the PLE involves the use of Information and Communication technologies then it necessarily involves applications. On the other hand any learning technology, however designed and despite overt statements to the contrary, inevitably facilitates or hiders different approaches to learning and knowledge construction. In other words all educational technology contains or supports an implicit pedagogic approach.

The issue is not a concept or an application but rather the processes of researching and designing technological and pedagogical approaches. The move to a leaner centred approach to pedagogy and a community based approach to knowledge construction and curriculum requires new approaches to research and design.

I think that still holds up four years on. But there is a problem. Most of the research and design activities into PLEs have taken place within the context of academic education and particularly in Universities. Universities have in general a long established and fairly entrenched pedagogic model. Faced with such a model, PLE designers and researchers have tended to see the introduction of a PLE either as a place to record the outcomes of learning – essentially as an e-Portolio, albeit socially enhanced – or as an additional online space linking the institution with the outside world. There is nothing wrong with either approach (and I appreciate that we now realise that many students may struggle with technology). However such approaches have limited us to the potential of PLEs.

Perhaps the most interesting research and design approach has been the advent of MOOCs – Massive Open Online Courses. As with any innovation the word MOOC is now morphing to describe a variety of developments in online learning. But what has been interesting is that essentially participants are expected to set up their own PLE, and to be responsible both for their own learning and for the learning of their peers.

I have been lurking around the Change 2011 MOOC – the self styled mother of all MOOCs  – which comes to an end this week. Change 2011 provides an automated Daily Newsletter aggregating blogs and tweets around the course.

And reading the newsletters and digging into so0me of the course blogs their appears  to be a fall of in participation and activity during the course . That is perhaps not surprising. Change 2011 was a long course. And one of the attractions of open and free courses like this is that people can dip in and out as they wish.

Yet I still see motivation as an issue. And this issue is also raised in a number of research papers talking about PLEs in higher education. Of course that may merely refect student expectations. In the UK with rising fees, students expect to be taught – and somewhat depressingly some evidence suggests that what they want to be taught is just that knowledge they need to pass an exam.

In my 2008 paper I talked about the move to a leaner centred approach to pedagogy and a community based approach to knowledge construction and curriculum. It could be argued that the Change MOOC reflects a community of practice and that community is structuring its own learning and knowledge. But I would be interested in seeing the potential of using PLEs in wider communities outside the higher education sector. And here the question of motivation and support becomes more critical. Learners will need considerable help in scaffolding their learning. Of course such scaffolding can be supported technologically. But teachers and trainers also have a key role in scaffolding learning and building on previous attainment and knowledge to accomplish new learning and competence through involvement in engaging and doable tasks that are not a simple answer to a question but involve problem solving, judgement, analysis, or synthesis (Starr, 2000).

Put simply, I do not think that PLEs as we have presently developed them provide enough support for scaffolding. I am not sure of the answer to this issue. But I think we need research and development designs that build on learning in communities of practice and particularly that look at scaffolding knowledge in different domains and in particular in domains that involve a relationship between knowledge and practice. In this respect we may need to look more closely at learning episodes and at the use of physical objects for learning. This approach has been adopted by the Learning layers project, currently being negotiated with the European Commission. “Learning Layers aims to develop a set of modular and flexible technological layers for supporting workplace practices in SMEs that unlock peer production and scaffold learning in networks of SMEs, thereby bridging the gap between scaling and adaptation to personal needs. By building on recent advances in contextualised learning, these layers provide a meaningful learning context when people interact with people, digital and physical artefacts for their informal learning, thus making learning faster and more effective. Building on mobile learning research, the project aims to situate learning into physical work places and practices to support situated, faster and more meaningful learning. Learning Layers provide a shared conceptual foundation, independent of the tools people use and the context they are in.”

Thus rather than seeing a PLE as a containers or connections- or even as a pedagogical approach – PLEs might be seen instead as a flexible process to scaffold individual and community  learning and knowledge development. And of course, with powerful mobile devices that learning can take place in contexts where knowledge is applied, rather than as pure knowledge abstracted from its application.

More to come…..

 

Innovation not adverts

May 16th, 2012 by Graham Attwell

A geeky article in GeekWire notes that Facebook has downplayed the possibilities of future income from their mobile app. the reason being suggested in that users don’t like mobile apps. I think they are right. I have installed several apps because of the advertising.

And although I have pop ups blocked, I use search engines everyday on my desktop computer which provide advertising. The truth is I never see it. But on a mobile it is pretty hard to avoid. This has some pretty big implications, considering that the whole Web 2 and social software thing has been largely been financed by advertising.

A move back to paid for software and services could be a good thing. It is near to impossible for start up companies or small enterprises with a smart idea to develop a business plan. Indeed, most developers I have talked to just hope that their idea will catch on and one of the big companions will buy them. This doesn’t do much for innovation. Indeed big companies have a generally poor record when it comes to taking over innovatory start ups. Yahoo have managed somehow to run Flickr, perhaps the first really social application, into the ground. Google ended up closing down microblogging service Jaiku and I don’t hold any great hopes for the future of Posterous under Google stewardship.

Not only would a return to paid for applications and services allow a better chance for innovative start-ups to compete and to develop business models which allowed them to remain independent but it could allow the development of better privacy controls and quality. The argument that because a service if free, users have no rights is insidious, but without proper regulation is hard to counter.

And finally, it might get rid of all the advertising spam which pollutes the web.

Vision of a Mobile Learning Environment

May 16th, 2012 by Graham Attwell

I am delighted to have been invited to evaluate the MOLE project proof of concept application and tools. The project involves 22 countries from around the world working together to build a platform independent set of tools aimed at learning collaboration and information sharing on mobile devices for aid workers.

I am particularly interested as the sort of tools they are talking about in the video are very similar to the tools I hope we will be building and testing in the Learning layers project, due to start later this year.

Pedagogy and Personal Learning Environments

May 15th, 2012 by Graham Attwell

The first of a series of four or five posts about Personal Learning Environments. Together with Linda Castaneda and Ilona Buchem, I am editing a special journal featuring five papers from the PLE Conference 2011, held in Southampton, UK (it never ceases to amaze me how long it take sot get these publications out). And of course the last thing we had to do was write an editorial. This extract from the editorial is an introduction to this  blog mini series.

“This special edition  features papers presented at the Second Personal Learning Environments Conference, held in Southampton, UK in July 2011.

It follows on from the previous journal edition which featured papers from the first PLE conference, held in Barcelona in July the previous year.

At that conference PLEs were a largely new and unexplored concept. Much effort and discussion was expended in trying to arrive at a common definition of a PLE, in debating the dichotomy between technological and pedagogy approaches and constructs to developing Personal Learning Environments, and between personal and institutional approaches to developing and using technology for learning.

Further discussions focused on the impact and affordances of Web 2.0 and social software on developing PLEs, with at the same time early, emergent empirical research on the implementation of PLEs.

In only one year the debate moved considerably forward. Earlier concerns – for instance over a tension between pedagogic and technical developments – appeared less irreconcilable, with the majority of participants agreeing that a PLE can be seen as a pedagogical approach with many implications for the learning processes, underpinned by a ‘hard’ technological base. Such a techno-pedagogical concept can benefit from the affordances of technologies, as well as from the emergent social dynamics of new pedagogic scenarios.

We also agreed on the need to continue thinking around practices for enriching the learning process through transparent dynamics that build on, at the same time, the potential of formal and non formal relationships, the contexts of schools and companies, the focus on learning and knowledge, and so on. In this process, attempts to invent new acronyms to differentiate contexts (of PLE components, or tools), often at only a theoretical level, add little extra-value to the previous analysis.

However, there was an evident concern about the implementation PLEs of in real learning contexts. This was seen as more than just a question of implementing a specific tool or suite of tools. Even when there is an agreement on the importance of tools for learning – especially Web 2.0 tools – the main issue remained of how to develop and implement a new understanding about how learning takes place.

The main concern about the development of PLEs was the practical pedagogical implication of their adoption in different contexts, especially when taking into account a more interdisciplinary perspective. It included considerations of pedagogy, didactics, technology, institutional issues and the many factors that contribute to the complex system of tensions that constitute the common framework in which we talk about learning and education.”

The Beautiful Game

May 11th, 2012 by Graham Attwell

This week Dave Boyle looked at co-ops in the world of professional football in an article in the Guardian. Thought it might be interesting to republish an article I wrote together with my Werder fan buddy Lars Heinemann some eight or so years ago for the Welsh socialist newspaper, Seren (sadly not longer in print).

“What’s wrong with the beautiful game

I am a football fan. I started out at the age of six as a Swindon Town Fan in the old third division At first I have a foldings tool to stand on and when I got bigger my father nailed two paint cans onto a plank of wood so I could see from the terraces. When I was a bit bigger still I used to go down to the County Ground three hours before kick off to secure myself one of the precious places on the railings at the front.

I  followed Swindon until I went to university at the age of 18. I was there in Wembley when we beat Arsenal in the League Cup Final – now famous as the formative point in Nick Hornby’s life. After a couple of years – it takes that long – I switched by loyalties to Swansea City – and followed the heady rise from the fourth division to top of the first – and then back down again. After brief – and unsatisfactory flirtations with Nottingham Forest and Manchester City – I moved to Pontypridd. It took a few years before I could switch my loyalties to rugby at the House of Pain. And then on to Bremen. Once more I had a passing curiosity in the local team – Werder – but it took a couple of years before I called myself a fan.

Why so long? If I just wanted to  see good football I would never have followed Swindon or Swansea. And I would have been down to the Weser Stadium like a shot to watch the top Bundesliga clubs in action.

Being a football fan is more than an appreciation for the aesthetics of the game or a leisure time activity. Being a fan is about identification – with the club, with the team, with the stadium and above all with the community. The community of players, of supporters and of the place where you live. Football fans are the lifeblood of football.
But something’s gone wrong. It stared in the 1980s. Ground capacities were reduced to allow the introduction of corporate boxes and posh seating. Prices have gone up and up. Football tried to change its image. It wishes to be no longer a working class game but family entertainment. TV money has meant the richer get richer whist small clubs rely on the scraps. Players wages have gone through the roof. It is hard for fans to identify any longer with player lifestyles. Football has fallen prey to the marketing experts. The big clubs have become global marketing enterprises – and the community no longer matters.

There have been some very good sociological studies of what it going on. For those interested look at the work of Taylor and of Giulianotti . Taylor talks of the commodification of the game whilst Giulianotti  identifies a new more recent phase he call hypercommodification.

What the researchers mean by this is that football is no longer a game for the fans but is a commodity to be bought and sold on the global market. Giulianotti says:

The broad trend in sports identification is away from the supporter model (with its hot traditional identification with local clubs) and toward the more detached, cool, consumer-orientated identification of the flâneur.

My translation of flaneur is poser – you know the people who like the idea of going to the match – not the real footy fan for which the  game is a matter of happiness or despair. The problem is that the flaneur will be very happy at Chelsea but certainly will never turn out to see Swindon or Swansea – or Wrexham for that matter – on a wet Tuesday night.

But our game is being taken away form us in another – and more literal – sense. the ownership of the game is changing. In the UK we never really owned the clubs. Post war capitalism sold us a con – local business people made up the (private) boards of the clubs with perhaps one seat for the supporters clubs. But at least they were local and we liked to think that the local community was in control. the picture is very different now. Clubs like Man U are stock market ventures. Football is traded like any other commodity. Other clubs like Chelsea are the play things of rich Mafiosi seeking to spirit their ill gotten loot gained from raiding the Russian peoples’ property.  The Champion’s League is increasingly a franchise of the few wealthy clubs able to afford a squad of elite galacticos.

Is there any hope? Ever the optimist, I think there is. firstly commodification hasn’t been a complete success. Look – as we all do with glee – at the mess its got Leeds into.

And in Germany Dortmund and Shalke have followed the same route and with the same results -teetering on the verge of bankruptcy as their stock market price falls and their team under-performs for yet another season. Wolfsburg is in the pocket of VW and Hertha Berlin receive massive payments from Bertelsmaan. But small clubs still can buck the trend – Werder Bremen did the double in Germany last year and it certainly wasn’t the TV moguls plan for Porto top win the Champions League or, that matter, for Greece to win the European Championship.

There are alternative forms of club ownership. Whilst some clubs like Dortmund have gone down the separate road in Germany, others, such as Werder Bremen, still preserve the traditional structure of the club being owned by its members with elected officials. For that matter even super clubs such as barcelona are owned by the members, as is the traditional model in Spain and Latin America.

In Werder’s case the club is more than just the Bundesliga team. Werder support a wide range of different sports – from handball to chess and well as over 30 football teams. And while Werder has undoubtedly gained a fair few flaneurs since its rise to success the majority of supporters are true fans.

Another side of the German game I find fascinating is the alternative league. Local football pundit Lars Heinemann explains: “The wild leagues are a child of the seventies, when members of anti nuclear, ecological or whatever groups decided they didn’t want to play in clubs any more. There were some attempts to create alternative clubs with the interesting effect that one could witness the German football association trying everything they could to avoid teams with weird names, normally involving the typical eastern block words like Dynamo, Torpedo or Locomotive, to become official clubs.

But first of all these teams played each other, and as numbers increased, they founded their own leagues at a local level. And these are still alive and kicking, the different local champions even playing out a German championship on a more or less regular basis. To give you an idea about the name thing: the multiple German champions from Bremen are called Vibrator Moscovskaja. Organisation goes as far as necessary – there are agreed football rules (passive offside almost everywhere excluded), although the teams are generally allowed to agree upon almost every change they want before the matches. Referees may be there if there is somebody wanting to take over the job and nobody objects – in case of disagreements and absence of such a person, the rules of the Bielefeld league in the Westfalen region e.g. state that ‘the team which in case of an argument first leaves the pitch, is declared loser’ – severe disagreements may be settled by the plenum of all teams. And it works. It’s a lot of fun and the quality of football sometimes is surprisingly high – perhaps due to another rule (again from the Bielefeld league): §16 Technically bad players wearing white or red shoes may be laughed at. “
Football can be saved. How? By that old working class adage of getting organised. Fans have to build their own organisations, fight against corporate ownership, take over the running of the clubs. OK – it won’t be easy. Is it important? Isn’t it just taking effort away from the things that really matter like stopping the US war crimes in Iraq. I think it is important. Cultural identity is central to working class and socialist politics. Football is one of our major outlets for cultural identity. Don’t let them take it away from us.

Thanks to Lars Heinemann for help with this article. He asked that the following biographical note be added. “Lars Heinemann lives in Bremen. Highlights of his football career were the eternal fights between Torpedo Todtenhausen and Mulo Minden and the Windlicht drinking afterwards.”

Developing a response to youth unemployment

May 9th, 2012 by Graham Attwell

Since I wrote my last article on ‘What is the answer to youth unemployment?‘, elections in Greece, France and Germany have seen a decisive rejection of European austerity politics. This is hardly surprising. It doesn’t take a genius to work out that ever deeper cuts and austerity, whilst ultimately cutting the real cost of labour and thus boosting corporate profits, are unlikely to boost growth, jobs or individual prosperity in any way.

The EU reaction has been to call for a new strategy for growth, although details of what that might entail are pretty hazy.

As I wrote in the previous article, one of the main results of the recession has been a massive increase in youth unemployment and, in particular, a substantial increase in graduate unemployment. At the same time companies are increasingly requiring work experience prior to employment resulting in increasing pressure for new graduates to undertake low paid of unpaid internships. Pretty clearly new policies are needed for education and training but there seems little public discussion of this, let alone of what such policies might be. The prevailing EU policy is more of the same and try harder.

To rethink policies for education and training requires looking back at how we got where we are now. And it requires looking at more than just education and training policy – we need to examine the relationship between education and training, labour market policy and economic policy. here I am going to look at just a few aspects of such policies and hope to develop this a little more in the next week or so.

For the last decade – or even longer – economic policy has been driven by a liberal free market approach. In turn labour market policy has similarly been based on deregulating labour markets and removing protection for workers (interestingly, Germany, the one country in Europe where the economy is growing, has probably one of the highest levels of labour market regulation). At a European level, education and training policy has been dominated by a drive to make qualifications more transparent and thus comparable in order to promote the mobility of labour. Employers have been given a greater role in determining the content and form of qualifications. Employability has become a key theme, with individuals being made responsible for keeping their knowledge and skills up to date, often as considerable personal expense. A number of countries have tried to liberalise education and training systems by reducing subsidies for public education and introducing individual voucher schemes.

At them same time the rather ridiculous EU Lisbon declaration, declared the aim to make the EU “the most competitive and dynamic knowledge-based economy in the world capable of sustainable economic growth with more and better jobs and greater social cohesion”, by 2010. Obviously this failed. But in line with such thinking most countries in Europe saw the way forward as moving from old fashioned vocational training to mass university education to cater for the demand for the thousands of new knowledge jobs. These jobs never materialised (except in countries such as the UK in the deregulated financial services sector which ultimately triggered the economic meltdown). As Wikipedia notes:

Much of the initial theorizing about the advent of a fundamentally new era in which economic activity is increasingly ‘abstract’, i.e., disconnected from land, labour, and physical capital (machines and industrial infrastructure) was associated with the ‘business management’ literature of the ‘new economy’ NASDAQ bubble, which collapsed in 2001 (but slowly recovered, albeit, in a leaner format, throughout the 2000s). This literature was initially known more for its hyperbole and faddishness than for its academic/empirical integrity.

In reality, many of the new degree courses were vocational in orientation – such as in the new Universities in the UK or in the Fachshule in Germany. These courses were either for new occupations – for instance in computing or simply replaced traditional vocational qualifications. It is arguable whether such a policy was financially sustainable or even desirable. It is certainly arguable whether an academic programme of learning is more effective for such subjects than traditional forms of work related learning.

To further policies associated with the obsession with the knowledge economy were the raising of the school leaving age and the so called lifelong learning policy. Longer schooling was needed, it was argued, to cope with the needs for higher levels of knowledge and skills for the knowledge rich jobs of the future. And lifelong learning was needed for the learning economies in which knowledge is the crucial resource and learning is the most important process.

At them same time the EU and national governments identified a number of key sectors which were felt to be crucial and which were then promoted through he education systems. In the late 1990s, there were dire predications of a massive shortage of computer programmers which never came to pass. And in the last five years or so EU and national governments have promoted the importance of STEM subjects – Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths as key to the future of employment and economies. Such priorities were based on a business driven policy of skills-matching promoting the “involvement of businesses in forecasting skills needs, through an employers’ survey tool and qualitative studies on the skills needs of business” (EU New Skills, New Jobs policy).

It is clear such policies have failed  and exhorting governments and agencies to try harder will go nowhere. What is needed is a fundamental rethink. As Professor Phillip Brown points out, the Lisbon Strategy was based on the idea that the technological lead then enjoyed by advanced industrial economies would be maintained with an increasing polarisation between highly skilled and well paid jobs in those countries and low paid low skilled manufacturing jobs being undertaken in developing countries. For a variety of reasons, including rapid technology transfer and a massive expansion of public education systems in countries like China and India, this hasn’t happened.

Indeed it may be the very manufacturing sector which was downgraded by EU policy which is the future for jobs in Europe especially in Small and Medium enterprises. For all the talk of high tech, knowledge based jobs. The construction industry is the biggest industrial employer in Europe with 13,9 million operatives making up 6,6% of the total employment in EU27. In addition it has a substantial influence on other industries represented by a multiplier effect. According to a study by the European Commission, 1 person working in the construction industry is responsible for 2 further persons working in other sectors. Therefore, it is estimated that 41,7 million workers in the EU depend, directly or indirectly, on the construction sector. Out of the 3,1 million enterprises 95% are SMEs with fewer than 20 and 93% with fewer than 10 operatives (pdf file). And manufacturing makes up almost 25 percent of the German economy, as opposed to only 11 percent in the United States. German mittelstands – small, family-owned and mid-size manufacturing companies – are key to the manufacturing sector. Rather than relying on university graduates for skills and knowledge, the mittelsands tend to employ graduates from the Dual apprenticeship system.

Indeed, many countries are promoting apprenticeships as one way out of the present mess. The present English coalition government boasts of the increase in the number of apprenticeship places. But in truth most of these places are apprenticeships only in name. The supermarket chain, Morrisons is the largest apprenticeship provider in the UK with many apprenticeship consisting of short induction training courses. To deliver the skills and knowledge for workers in a manufacturing economy through apprenticeship requires high quality training and the active involvement of employers and train unions alike. Moreover it requires social (and financial) recognition fo the value of apprenticeships. that seems a long way away.

To overcome the present crisis of youth unemployment requires a series of radical and interlinked policy initiative involving economic and labour market policies rather than just tinkering with education and training curricula. At a macro econ0omic level it means developing manufacturing industry rather than merely relying on financial services and the high tech knowledge industry sector. It means making sure companies provide high quality training, rather than forcing individuals to be responsible for their own employability. It means making sure that those who have gained vocational qualifications have opportunities to use those skills and knowledge and are properly rewarded for their learning. It means freeing up capital for starting small companies. It means proper financing for vocational schools and providing alternatives to young people rather than just more school and expensive university courses. It means abandoning skills matching and planning for future societal skills needs.

In other words we have to abandon liberalisation and free market ideologies and to recognise that economies and employment are a social function. As such society has to plan for the future of employment and the provision of jobs for young people. Is this too much to ask?

 

 

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