I’m prompted by a #femEdTech tweet to write about some of the work I’m involved in regarding linking education to employment:
The whole “skills shortage” narrative is deeply problematic and needs much more nuanced critical discussion #femedtech
Universities are failing to address the UK’s skills shortage | Letter https://t.co/gD1uqcrkPb
— FemEdTech (@femedtech) January 7, 2020
This is going to be a tricky topic to write about, if I get it wrong one way or another I will either offend people with whom I enjoy working or seem to be giving the opposite message to the one I intend.
The work in question is on Talent Signalling for the Job Data Exchange, but what I have in mind in particular is some of the wider context for that work, which goes under the banner of Talent Pipeline Management. Now, there is a lot that I don’t like about the rhetoric and metaphors here, I won’t dwell on them, if you’re likely to get it you won’t need it explaining. Once I got passed that, what impressed me, was the idea brought in from supply chain management, explained to me by Bob Sheets, that if you want to go beyond a low quality commodity-like approach (by analogy cheap components sourced with price as the only criterion) you needed to “go deep”. That is, you need to build a deep relationship to create understanding–it’s all social constructivism now–between those all involved education, training and learning, those involved in recruitment, and those involved in strategic planing for the local economy.
The approach seems much deeper than I have seen in the UK, for example in industry liaison committees at Universities, because it involves getting all levels & contexts of education provider together to work with industry and business on things like curricula and training opportunities. This is described in detail through the TPM Academy. Again, anyone from an education background will flinch at the industry-focused utilitarian view of education shown in how it is presented, but the underlying idea seems valuable.
So my current thoughts and questions are: how does this look from the learner/worker/job seeker point of view? [Quick note to self: check on whether they are included in the conversations defining curricula.] I think that is key to keeping this work on the right side of education being just about satisfying the need for cheap labour. Secondary question: is my glibly stated opinion that this goes deeper than approaches I’ve seen in the UK just an admission of ignorance? [Answers in the comments please!]
Going forward, my work will continue to look at the data that can be communicated through things like job adverts, course and qualification descriptions, trying to build the underlying infrastructure that allows “faster clearer signals” and stonger linkages between employment and education / training to help build these deeper relationships. I’m also getting involved in how individuals’ acheivements can be represented semantically, so that will bring in a whole raft of questions about who controls the creation and dissemination of this data.