Debating High Skills and Joined-up Policy by Andre Kraak

By Andre Kraak

Debates approximately solid governance are more and more enthusiastic about the coordination failure that happens whilst numerous organisations are required to behave in live performance with one another, and this monograph appears at simply this type of case within the South African government's efforts to "join up" education and paintings to provide a skilled labor force.  

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One of the first ‘out of the blocks’ was Australia under Bob Hawke who wanted that country to become ‘clever’, and the first President Bush saw education as the key to economic prosperity, as does Tony Blair. While it is related to the idea of the rise of a knowledge economy, there are several background factors that have led to politicians embracing the idea that economic and social progress depends on increasing the skills of the workforce. These are: • the decline of economic nationalism, walled economies and high-wage, low-skills jobs; • the retreat from Keynesian welfare state settlements, which has left workers vulnerable in the market without skills; • the possibility that progress towards a high-skilled economy could alleviate poverty and unemployment; • globalisation and the competition between nations; and • the rise of the so-called knowledge economy.

It is anticipated that this spending, in combination with the Department of Public Work’s programme to intensify labour use in infrastructure projects, should together have an important impact on employment. (PCAS 2003) Significant commitment to infrastructural development was obtained from all parties at the Growth and Development Summit held in June 2003. Amongst these commitments were: • Accelerating the pace and quality of public infrastructure investment. • Reducing input costs. The competitive advantage that underpins investment in industry and job creation depends in part on input costs, pricing and quality of raw materials, transport, energy, communications, research and technology development, and other aspects of the business environment.

It is assumed by policy-makers that once young people have their paper qualifications then, like angels ascending the ladder to heaven, they will be guaranteed a satisfying and well-paid job in the knowledge economy sector. However, that assumption ignores the processes of innovation and skill under capitalism. What we are seeing now, as we have seen in the past, is that some of the archetypical knowledge economy sectors such as banking are becoming routinised, that creativity and initiative for which graduates might have been paid a premium are no longer required, because what corporations want is to 32 Debating High Skills Policy(5) 3/9/06 2:01 AM Page 33 THE HIGH-SKILLS THESIS minimise risk, to make the processes of production predictable and to be able to diagnose with precision why things have not gone as predicted.

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