Education and the workforce

The [education] system is basically anti-entrepreneurial. It is horribly wasteful. And, at a time of severe international competition, schools are failing to produce a labor force that is sufficiently skilled, adaptable and flexible.

Does that sound familiar? When do you think it was written: 1986, 1996, 2006 or 2016?

Based on the current discourse regarding education, it could certainly have been written in 2016. If you don’t believe me, type the title of this post into a search engine (preferably not Google) – you probably won’t have to look too hard to find something which echoes the quote above. I also suspect that people were saying similar things in 1986 and 2006.

In fact, the quote comes from page 8 of a 1996 book by Michael W. Apple called Cultural Politics and Education, which I’m reading as part of my MEd research. It’s part of a description of the discourse of a “rightist alliance” of neoconservative and neoliberal agendas which

effectively has created the conditions that give it increasing hegemonic power over policies and over even how we talk about what is right and wrong in the economy, social welfare, politics, and, as many of you know too well from personal experience, education. The discourse of the alliance combines two kinds of language: (1) of children as “future workers,” of privatization and market choice for “consumers,” of business needs, and of tighter accountability and control; and (2) of “Christian” values, the Western tradition, the traditional family, and back to “basics.” These two languages, spoken simultaneously, have created such a din that it is hard to hear anything else. Putting these two kinds of language together, as the rightist coalition does, gives it immense power. It threatens to become truly hegemonic. (p. 14)

Has it become truly hegemonic? I think that it has.

This is what Apple said about it in 2012:

Update 10/3: Removed a redundant ‘also’, edited the third paragraph to better represent the context of the ‘anti-entrepreneurial’ quote and added the video embed at the bottom

Update 17/3: Added the link to ‘Australia’s Digital Pulse’ report

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