The Education-Jobs Gap: Underemployment or Economic Democracy

The Education-Jobs Gap: Underemployment or Economic Democracy

The Education-Jobs Gap: Underemployment or Economic Democracy

The Education-Jobs Gap: Underemployment or Economic Democracy


Reversing the conventional optic, David Livingstone argues that the major problem in education-work relations is not education, but work. He offers multidimensional documentation of the explosion of learning & the increasing underemployment of knowledge. Using largescale U.S. & Canadian surveys, the first representative survey of underemployed people, & in-depth interviews at placement offices & food banks, he exposes the myth of the "postindustrial learning enterprise" & assesses prospects for overcoming the education-jobs gap by democratizing the workplace.


There is growing evidence of the extent of the under-used capacities of adults. . . . [Researchers] have documented the extraordinarily high average level of investment of time, effort and money by individuals into private learning projects. . . . The significance of this capacity for planning, managing and even financing private learning has not been readily appreciated by those who are responsible for promoting work-related learning.

--Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, 1993, 30

The current employment situation entails an enormous waste of resources and an unacceptable level of human suffering. It has led to growing social exclusion, rising inequality between and within nations, and a host of social ills. It is thus both morally unacceptable and economically irrational.

--Michael Hansenne, Director-General International Labor Office, 1995, 93

Let's begin with two apparently contradictory social facts. First, there are more highly educated people than ever before and their learning efforts continue to grow rapidly. Secondly, there is mass unemployment and underemployment of capable people. The growing gap between the unprecedented extent of collective knowledge of the people and the diminishing number of meaningful, sustaining jobs has become the major social problem of our times. This is the distinguishing character of the current education-jobs gap. There are now officially over 35 million unemployed people in the OECD countries, almost quadruple the average of the 1950s and 60s, when people generally spent much less time in learning activities (OECD 1994a . . .

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