The Education-Jobs Gap: Underemployment or Economic Democracy

By D. W. Livingstone | Go to book overview

Preface

The education-jobs gap refers to the discrepancy between our work- related knowledge and our opportunities to use this knowledge in interesting and fairly compensated work. My basic argument is that our knowledge generally far exceeds our job opportunities. We are wasting large human learning capacities and achievements through our failure to recognize the existence of a massive "knowledge society" in a vast array of current formally organized and informal learning practices. Education systems can always be improved. But it is not inadequate education that is the primary cause of the education- jobs gap. The basic problem is the lack of decent jobs.

Most of this book is devoted to documenting the unprecedented amount of present learning activity, assessing the extensive and multi- faceted "underemployment" of this learning in paid workplaces, and offering an explanation for why this wastage is happening. The pressures in private market-based economies to sell more cheaply than competitors by reducing labor costs and automating production have led to unprecedented numbers of willing workers being made redundant in terms of one or more of the many faces of underemployment. Each of these faces, namely the talent use gap, structural unemployment, involuntary reduced employment, the credential gap, the performance gap and subjective underemployment, is carefully scrutinized.

In spite of this widespread underemployment of existing knowledge, we continue to be barraged by the claim that more and better education and training initiatives are the solution to the lack of decent jobs. On the contrary, the viable solution lies not in educational reforms but in economic reforms. Organizing paid work through blind obedience to the presumed dictates of globally competitive markets is not the only choice. The basic alternatives to this shareholder-centred capitalism are either a more stakeholder-based version of a capitalist economy or economic democracy. As the last chapter suggests, there

-xii-

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The Education-Jobs Gap: Underemployment or Economic Democracy
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Tables and Figures ix
  • Preface xii
  • Acknowledgements xiv
  • Introduction Reversing the Education-Jobs Optic 1
  • 1 - The Knowledge Society: Pyramids and Icebergs of Learning 12
  • Introduction 12
  • Concluding Remarks 51
  • 2 - The Many Faces of Underemployment 52
  • Introduction 52
  • Concluding Remarks 94
  • 3 - Voices from the Gap: Underemployment and Lifelong Learning 97
  • 3 Voices from the Gap: Underemployment and Lifelong Learning 97
  • Concluding Remarks 131
  • 4 - Debunking the Knowledge Economy": The Limits of Human Capital Theory" 133
  • Introduction 133
  • Concluding Remarks 170
  • 5 - Explaining the Gap: Conflicts Over Knowledge and Work 173
  • Introduction 173
  • Concluding Remarks 223
  • 6 - Bridging the Gap: Prospects for Work Reorganization in Advanced Capitalism 226
  • Introduction 226
  • Concluding Remarks 274
  • Endnotes 276
  • Glossary of Acronyms 298
  • Bibliography 299
  • Index 331
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