The Business Of Placing Canadian Children At Risk Education Essay


The correlation between formal education and work has been a focus of mounting public debates over the past decades. The current population are faced with mounting challenges in choosing from various collection of educational efforts endorsed under the pretext of lifelong learning sequentially to keep up with rapidly shifting job markets, the fast pace of technological change and global competiveness. Learners are urged to seek adequate degree (and the right type) of education to meet labour force obligations, educationalists are required to guarantee their academic curriculums are customized to generate workers with the exact skills needed to increase productivity and competitiveness in today's globally competitive economy (Wotherspoon, 2009). In the context of global competition, in which a greater level of general and specialized competence is required, education is viewed as a measure of success for a nation (Glen A a Jones). But there is general consensus that the education system has lost touch with the task of preparing students for a meaningful career. Penchants against career technical education among academia together with increasing demands to teach to standardized tests are obliging schools to prepare students for a future they will never have, rather than providing graduates with the real-world skills (Wotherspoon, 2009). In a study on the relevance of school education to employment in

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Wotherspoon and Schissel (2201) observed that there is a mismatch between what traditional school education develops in learners and the needs of the world of work. The research established that most employees criticized the education system for being too academic and lacking in the development of proper work ethic.

This gap between schooling and work is generally explained through the analysis of technological functionalism and human capital theory (Wotherspoon, 2009). The technological functionalism hypothesis assumes that changes in educational demands are connected to changes in skills and expertise, and that formal educations offers the required training for highly specialized jobs (Wotherspoon, 2009). This rational links education as an investment and therefore will provide a greater return for competitive economical growth.

Conversely, the lack of education or an unsuitable career path reduces individual's prospects and weakens economic growth (Livingston, 1999a). In response to the rhetoric of healthy economy, educational institutions are therefore encouraged to overhaul their curriculum to correlate with job expectations and the complex realities evolved in a globalized and technological era (Wotherspoon, 2009). David Livingstone (1999a), through is own inquiries, proposes a scathing critique of the myth in the quest of the perfect type of education for the perfect job professed by the advanced industrial economies. Livingstone argues that we should be more alarmed with the lack of meaningful and rewarding work associated with educational deficiencies but to "job churning" (Livingstone 1999a, p. 223). If we are to recognize the mismatch between education and work, underemployment and wasted talents are an even larger social problem and more of an economical issue than educational deficiencies (Livingstone 1999a). Original empirical evidence reveals that Canadians have accumulated extensive education qualifications and experience which currently exceeds the actual performance requirements of their jobs (Livinstone 1999a) and that women are more apt than men to have an higher education than their profession actually requires (Metcalf, 1992). Our growing preoccupation with the standardized hierarchical "pyramid" endeavours of our educational system is augmented by various learning flurries that form a huge unknown and unrecognized "iceberg" of informal learning (Livingstone 1999a p. 149). Provoked by an absence of adequate jobs, lack of opportunities to apply their formal education and the continuous desire for self-development, individuals engage in more education only to stumble upon the odds that further hindrances will deviate their search for meaningful employment (Livingstone 1999a). But the opinions of wasted talent among a percentage of the labour force has increased in popularity during a time of prevalent unemployment and subjective underemployment and are the end result of people's inability to find work, to get validation for their qualifications and abilities, or to use their skills in their current profession (Livingstone 1999a).

These tensions appraised throughout Livinstone's The Education-Jobs Gap bring a sundry of dissemination for educators. Formal educational credentials will continue to be essential imperatives as long as employers and learners value these requirements as the necessary distinct to social advancement and economic success (Livingstone 1999a). However, these same pressures command incessant job restructuring and workplace practices, creating redundancy in many workers' skills and knowledge (Lawton, 1992a). The promotion by large profit-driven corporations to "commodify", justify and control learning related practices is liable to create a plethora of alternative educational opportunities along with additional propaganda and reorganizing of existing educational programs (Fleissner 2005)

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As this education system is restructured in accordance by public and private appeals for practical forms of training linked to the current job demands, however, fiscal and corporate restraints may curb admission to educational services, affecting most critically persons from the least advantaged social groups (Livingstone 1999a).

Taylor and Watt-Malcolm (2008) has provided an illuminating analysis of these shortcomings in the context of fostering useful knowledge and apprenticeship programs, and the impact this has on the rationalization of the workforce learning agenda and the academic/vocational division in schools. The authors' inquiries with students and instructors involved in a carpentry program revealed important data concerning the liberal attitudes to workforce development. Interestingly, limits on learning took place in schools somewhat because of the academic/vocational gap in curriculum. In the educational realm, the downfall to deal with consternation rooted in power relations in the workplace restricted students' learning. Similarly, students were forced to make trade-offs in the workplace that limited their learning. The authors disputed that taking steps to attend to these concerns would improve workplace practices and learning environments for apprentices. While policy-makers are inclined to concentrate on formal training, their research recommends a change in workplace practices encouraging an all encompassing learning environment for apprentices. For example, students were often confronted with an option between accepting more secure work in a specific area of the trade and obtaining work with established entrepreneurs who stipulated a higher return on their training investment (Taylor & Watt-Malcolm 2008). In the latter case, the difference between employee skill development and exploitation was not always apparent. With regards to acquisition of skills and overall quality of an apprenticeship program, employers should assume bigger accountability by providing mentorship opportunities.

In order to create a highly educated and flexible labour force for increasingly demanding workplaces greater contingencies could be afforded to students and educators to survey workplace challenges (Taylor & Watt-Malcolm 2008). However, such suggestions are also problematic. The apprenticeship system is not ready to change. It is intensely entrenched in a mind-set, in its customs, traditions and institutional framework (Schuetze, 2003).

From their inception, the educational system in Canada has been created by differing and often conflicting principles. Factors like conformity, competition, advancement of knowledge, and economic development are meant to coexist with to democratic values, diversity, individuality, inclusiveness, modification, and personal growth.

Canadian educational advances have been differentiated by growing acknowledgment that uniformity in mass public training bestowed by repeated challenges to amalgamate diverse and changing groups of learners and social development. Broader debates in diverse national perspective have framed public concern around issues of how schools do or should contribute to the economic arena and to the development of human capital. Of relative importance is how well schools achieve their role as a comprehensive training system to provide to all learners equitable access for social, economic, and political participation (Carnoy & Levin, 1985).

Education is a dynamic process involving individuals, groups, and society in which they live. It is a process which is shaped by the past, and at the same time, one which must be refined continuously to meet challenges which cannot be avoided in the future. Much has been accomplished in recent years toward the provision equitable access to all who are qualified and seek further education. With imaginative and sensitive leadership both at the government level and institutional level higher education has the ability to exploit to the fullest the talents and potentials. The challenge however must be met without sacrificing those underlying values. In Canada, as in many other countries, there is concern that the existing education systems are not adequately meeting the challenges of the complex modern world.

One trend is an increasing emphasis on the quality of education.

Education is also seen as a contributing to a reduction in social fragmentation. Social justice and access are continuing themes and the theme of integration has developed from them.

We must remember that schools were not initially designed to educate every child to high

academic standards. Historically, high schools, in particular, sorted students into two tracks -

those deemed capable of postsecondary education and those who were not. Today, the

expectation is for every student to graduate from high school and be prepared for higher

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education and the workforce.

Livingstone argues that analysis of contradictory dynamics that pervade education-work relationships is necessary for an understanding of how knowledge comes to be wasted on such a large scale in advanced capitalist economies. Social contestation over the production, valuation and control of knowledge has accompanied an explosion in the amounts and types of information to which people have access.

In an economic context dependent upon private appropriation of knowledge and material commodities, global competition and the continuous drive for enhanced productivity require innovative, flexible workers and workplace practices. Consequently, profitable investment and production are associated with the ongoing upgrading of workers' general educational levels at the same time that entrepreneurs or employers seek to control or market actual working knowledge.

At the same time, individuals across social groups are equipping themselves through informal learning situations with life skills, technical knowledge and other competencies that formal educational institutions have been reluctant to embrace or recognize. The explosion of educational directions and possibilities challenges educators to incorporate into their activities meaningful and equitable ways in which to acknowledge the varied forms of educational interests and experiences that people have.

In this regard, educators must remain vigilant to educational practices that promote control of knowledge and learning processes by a few and to promote the kinds of educational relationships that promote growth, empowerment and secure futures among all social participants.

Two dimensions of education-work discrepancies -- the performance gap and the credential gap -- can be a consequence of under-education, when people do not have the knowledge or skills their jobs require, but these phenomena, too, are more likely to occur when people are not given the opportunity to engage fully their capabilities within employment settings.

Terry Wotherspoon is a professor of sociology at the University of Saskatchewan, and author of The Sociology of Education in Canada: Critical Perspectives, Oxford.

As the basis of wealth in developed nations shifts from natural resources and manufacturing to knowledge, achieving higher levels of popular education becomes increasingly important. In Canada, as in many other countries, there is concern that the existing education systems are not adequately meeting the challenges of the complex modern world.

there is nevertheless a popular perception that the quality of education has been eroded, that many students graduating from high school are not adequately prepared in fundamental aspects of learning, and that many university graduates may not be well enough equipped to compete internationally.

Concerns relate to the whole continuum of formal learning systems, from primary schools to universities. Weaknesses in the quality of primary and secondary education are reflected in, for example, the incidence of functional illiteracy among high school students and graduates, the frequency with which students drop out of programs, and the perceived inadequacy of the teaching of mathematics and sciences.

In its 1992 study, "Education and Training in Canada," the Economic Council of Canada concluded that many young Canadians are not well served by their education system and that the 70% of school leavers who do not go on to university lack pragmatic technical and vocational programs to prepare them for the workforce. Canada's school system does not have non-academic, vocational programs as an optional study path or an appropriate strategy to help students to make a successful transition from school to the workplace.

The demand for programs directed toward labour-market requirements may be expected to continue to grow in the coming years. Labour-market reviews have shown that employers increasingly require more educated and flexible workers. The results of a social survey published in 1992 indicated that of about 14% of the workforce enrolled in an educational program leading to a degree, diploma or certificate, about half were taking courses to improve or change their careers.(7)

Mismatch Between Education and Schooling


argument here is that if schools do not necessarily

develop job-related competencies, then students

tend to lose motivation to pursue it. It is

this demotivation and lack of confidence in education

that negatively affects school-life expectancy

and thus giving rise to dropouts. Similar

findings were also made in America by Lauer

(1992), who observed a contradiction between

education and the economy. In this study, Lauer

revealed that although there is still a weak relationship

between education, occupation and income,

a large number of college graduates have

difficulties in finding jobs. The study also established

that the few graduates who do find jobs

tend to work at tasks that do not require the kind

or amount of education they have, leading to frustration and dissatisfaction. That is to say, education

does not always pay off in terms of income

and upward mobility. This view implies that it is

this diminished economic payoff of the education

system that causes students to lose confidence

in education and thereby preferring to drop

out. In support of this, Lorrell and Hell (2000)

point out that the lack of economic alternatives

in the labour market, even when they complete

schooling, is a strong factor that influences children

to drop out of school in developing countries

In his study,

Mandebvu (1996) demonstrated that there was

a mismatch between the curriculum taught in

schools and the needs of the world of work. The

research criticised the Zimbabwe education system

for failing to instil job-related competencies

in students leading to student demotivation. Thus,

dropping out can then be understood as an outcome

of student demotivation, lack of confidence

and interest in an education system deemed irrelevant.

Similar findings were also made in America

by Lauer (1992) who demonstrated that the relationship

between education, occupation and income

was very weak as evidenced by the large

number of graduates who had difficulties in finding

jobs. Interestingly, the study further showed that the few graduates who managed to find jobs

worked at tasks that did not require the kind or

amount of education they had, leading to more

frustration and disillusionment among those students

still in school. This view implies that it is

this diminished economic payoff of the education

system that fuels the drop out problem as

more and more students get frustrated, lose confidence

in the education system and prefer to quit.

Literature is abound with evidence that points

out that the lack of economic alternatives in the

labour market, even when they complete schooling,

is a strong factor that influences children to

drop out of school in developing countries (Cooper

and Jordan 2003).

The mismatch between education and schooling is well expressed in the students‟

accounts of their early school leaving experience, many of them indicating that attending

school is often not about education but about attaining a certificate. In many cases

students felt they did not learn anything or, at least, anything that was relevant to, or

would help them improve, their lives. Lessard et al. (2008) described situations where

students felt like they were "walking in the dark." Participants described how going

through the motions of school was confusing to them and failed to link the educational

journey with their futures. Similarly, Harris (2008) noted that until teachers are aware

that the students see purpose behind schooling and class work, they are unlikely to

engage and fail to see the relevance of learning.

Positions of

Write a short speech on no less than 750 words and no more than 1000 words explaining why universities should take account of prior learning and what issues they need to be aware of when introducing a PLAR scheme.

Wotherspoon T 2004. The Sociology of Education in

Canada: Critical Perspectives. Toronto: Oxford

University Press.

Lauer RM 1996. Social Problems and the Quality of Life.

Dubuque: Brown Publishers

.7 Statistics Canada, Perspectives on Labour and Income, Catalogue 75-001E, Autumn 1992, p. 51, and Spring 1993, p. 14.

METCALF, H. (1992) Hidden unemployment and the labour market, In: McLaughlin, E. (ed.)

Understanding Unemployment. London: Routledge.

Lawton, S. B. (1992a) Why restructure? An international survey of the roots of reform.

Journal of Education Policy, 7(2), 143-54.

Fleissner, Peter (2005) Commodification, Information, Value and Profit. In Poeisis & Praxis. International Journal of Technology Assessment and Ethics of Science. Vol. 3

Schuetze, H. 2003. Alternation education and training in Canada. In H. Schuetze & R. Sweet (Eds.), Integrating school and workplace learning in Canada (pp. 66-92). Montreal: McGill-Queens University Press.

Carnoy, M., & Levin, H. M. (1985). Schooling and work in the democratic state.

Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.

The Business of Placing Canadian Children and Youth "At-Risk"

Terry Wotherspoon, Bernard Schissel

Canadian Journal of Education, Vol. 26, No. 3, 2001, pp. 321-339.