Lifelong Learning and its negative aspects.

While researching the Lifelong learning movement I came across many disappointing quotes and crude claims that limited this social movement to a pragmatic and instrumental approach to learning and the learning society. I guess one of the most famous ones is that of Ball made in 1998 embodied in the Lisbon Declaration and expressing the European Union’s aspirations. Ball’s claim was ‘‘Learning pays’‘. As Peter Jarvis, author of the academic article ,, Globalisation, Lifelong Learning and the Learning Society”, notices Ball does not provide empirical evidence to support his statement. Moreover, vocational courses can be very expensive (mostly financed from ones own resources) and often free learning opportunities are offered on very disadvantageous terms.

However, there is a clear evidence that shows a correlation between the level of education and the amount of money earned. This crude claim is also very simplistic and it leads me immediately to another very offensive term that surely many have across while reading about the labour market and the employment situation in Europe. This term that belongs to the new moral economy is also mentioned by Frank Coffield in his academic article entitled ,,Breaking the Consensus: lifelong learning as social control”. I am speaking of the offensive jargon such as ”overeducated graduates”.

 As a young person that is still studying, I would like to believe it is worth to study hard and invest my time, as well as my parents money in my education and my self-development (here Coffield would probably say that I am viewing education in terms of investment or consumption and I think I could’t really deny he’s right)  .

However, I do realize that the labour market is facing many difficulties and nowadays a good education is no longer enough to get a job. And here, I mean any job. When I spoke to the American group on Skype, I had the impression this was not an issue for them. I do not know if it was just something that I perceived, but to me their tranquility, pride and satisfaction while speaking about their vocational studies( that were very expensive by the way)  came from the fact that they knew it would somehow be of use and thrive in their professional environment. To me, a young European not-yet-graduate, I fear that whatever first job I get ( and here I hope I am not being too optimistic when limiting my hopes to the first job) I am quite sure I will definitely be  overeducated for it.

Secondly, upskilling creates credential inflation. The value of educational credentials begins to fall as a higher percentage of each generation achieves graduate status, however, there is no corresponding expansion of jobs for these young graduates. This example provides us with the so called inflationary spiral, which leads to training and education being of dubious value, because student will increase their credentials rather than their understanding.

Finally, I would like to hope I am not subjectioning myself and all the unemployed graduates to the consequences of the economic crisis. However, I think it is vital that the Government, the Businesses and the policy makers review the system in order to allow education to suit the needs of the economy better and prevent people from only thinking about education in means of ‘input’ and ‘output’, but encourage to learn, evolve and develop, because it it their ambition to to so and not because of the social pressure, anxiety and high unemployment.


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