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Article citation: Martin McCracken, (2012) "Editorial", Education + Training, Vol. 54 Iss: 1, pp. -
These are indeed turbulent times for the global economy, with rising unemployment and inflation leaving many households watching the pennies or cents and “battening down the hatches” in the hope of more prosperous times in the future. Every day yet more warnings are heard of global upheaval and financial meltdown which will have grim repercussions for the labour market (BBC, 2011a, b). For example, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development has recently warned of an increased risk of a global jobs recession, which will inevitably lead to more social unrest. Similarly, recent research from the International Labour Organisation (ILO) has argued that almost 80 million net new jobs are needed over the next two years to help stabilise the world economy (ILO, 2011). The obvious question is where the “new jobs” will come from and crucially, for those of us interested in education and training issues, what skills, knowledge and competencies will young people need to compete for these “new jobs” in the future?
From my observation it seems to be easier to create labels for the youth of today than to begin to tackle the problem of reinvigorating employment or training opportunities, and a growing list of categorisations for young people has emerged. One group which has been written about recently and who seem to be facing a particularly bleak future, are those who fall into the “Not in Employment, Education or Training” (NEET) category. This is not surprising given the latest figures (November 2011) from the Department for Education estimating that in England, nearly a million (979,000) 16-24-year olds were “NEET” between April and June in 2011. As ever there is some controversy about the exact NEET figures due to natural fluctuations in the academic year, but certainly the negative effects for such individuals cannot be argued with. For example, some commentators (Princes Trust) have noted that youth unemployment has major mental health risks, including “self-loathing and panic attacks”.
As well as those currently unemployed or not in education or training, other labels have been created for the increasing number of “underemployed” young people in society who are forced to take relatively low-paid jobs for which they are clearly overqualified. As with the NEET individuals, negative social implications of underemployment have been put forward. For example, the pressure group Youth Fight for Jobs have pointed towards the emergence of an “infantilised generation” where young people are forced to continue to live with their parents because they are not able to get a well enough paid job to allow them to secure a mortgage and independence. More emotively, some commentators predict the emergence of a “lost generation” of young people who may simply have given up on securing employment in the area of their vocational training or degree. Recent research from Professor David Bell from Stirling University (Vass, 2011) has noted a growing trend for university graduates to “trade down” in their employment quest. Such a phenomenon obviously has knock on effects for both the individuals concerned who may never make the leap into their desired vocation, but also for others further down the job market pecking order who are denied opportunities as their better qualified peers are left with no choice but to take lower skilled and paid jobs. If we also take into account the fact that those at the more mature career stage are also being asked to work for a longer duration, thus affecting the natural churn of the labour market, then the full extent of the problems faced by those looking for work becomes obvious.
So this brings us back to the fundamental question about how to effectively design training and education interventions, which can create good quality employment opportunities for young people, and what we as commentators and researchers in this field can do to help. I feel that the four special issues which have been commissioned for this volume will help to fuel debate and arouse interest for the journal's key stakeholder groups (students, academics, educators, practitioners and policy makers) in their quest for a better understanding of the educational and training issues for young people.
In the first of these (Volume 54, Issue 3), Victoria Harte and Jim Stewart from Leeds Metropolitan University will explore “Enterprise in Higher Education”. As can be appreciated from the above commentary, this issue is now vitally important given the need to understand job creation for young adults. The particular theme of this special issue will be enterprise education vs the more output driven entrepreneurship education within the HE curriculum. This special issue also seeks to investigate the efficacy and impact of enterprise education and how it relates to the “employability” agenda.
The second special issue (Volume 54, Issue 5) from John Goodwin and Henrietta O’Connor from the University of Leicester will contain a series of papers, which explore the topical issue of “older workers” in the economy. This special issue is particularly timely, given the increased commentary surrounding the apparent crisis in the labour market, and the key objective is to understand the role of older employees who may need to continue working beyond established retirement ages, and the implications of this for younger workers in the economy. The special issue will present a range of papers seeking to understand the complexity of the inter-relationship between young and older worker in rapidly changing labour markets. Ultimately the papers presented will discuss the significant implications for education, training and employment policy makers as well as academics and practitioners as a result of the changing demographic landscape.
The third special issue (Volume 54, Issue 7) will be guest edited by Thomas Clarke from the University of Technology, Sydney and is entitled “The future of business education and the business schools”. Like the other special issues I think that the research presented here will also stimulate much debate about the influence which business education has upon the economy and wider society. Papers in this issue will focus upon the interface between business, government and society and particularly how the curriculum in contemporary business schools needs to develop to ensure that they continue to contribute in a positive way to society.
In the final special issue for this volume (Issue 8/9) it is a pleasure to welcome back Harry Matlay from Birmingham City University as guest editor for an area which will feature a range of papers designed to help us understand the vitally important theme of student entrepreneurship education. This is a fitting way to end the volume when we consider the issues which were raised at the start of this editorial surrounding the many young people who are not currently employed or in education and training or are in jobs where their full complement of skills and competencies are not been used productively. Perhaps, if we can better understand the key issue of entrepreneurship we can begin to design more effective education and training interventions, which can help in our quest for job creation.
However, it is not just the planned special issues where we can make a contribution. Ultimately I feel that as researchers in this area of youth education and training we are in a privileged position to influence the key debates and policies in this area. However, after a full year as editor of the journal I have found that as authors we sometimes forget about the ultimate purpose of the research we undertake and how our findings can really make a difference in this turbulent and unpredictable environment. With this in mind, I would urge you all to think very clearly about contribution to both theory and practice when submitting your empirical or conceptual research papers. I feel that if we all keep this at the forefront of our minds we can continue to solidify Education+Training’s position as a leading outlet for those seeking to understand educational and training issues for young adults. Before I sign off on this editorial piece I would like to thank all those who are connected to the journal including the assistant editors, editorial advisory board members and publishers at Emerald. I would also like to say a special word of thanks to the reviewers (listed below). Without their hard work, timely and constructive reviews we would not be able to produce this journal to such a high standard.
Tom Bourner, Rainer Bremer, Simon Bridge, Martha Burkle, Ignazio Cabras, Gerard Callanan, Annette Chappell, Patrick Clancy, Thomas Clarke, Thomas Cooney, Norma D’Annunzio-green, Bruce Dodge, Karin Du Plessis, Lea Ferrari, Alison Fuller, Jack Gault, David Gilbert, Robert Glover, John Goodwin, Irakli Gvaramadze, Margaret Harris, Vicky Harte, Antoine Hermens, Rick Holden, Simon Housego, Paul Humphreys, Colin Jones, Marlise Kammermann, Robert Lawy, Philippe Lecomte, Mark Lee, David Lim, Margaret Lindorff, Colin Lindsay, Jonas Masdonati, Mark McCrory, Pauric McGowan, David McGuire, Steve McPeake, Ron McQuaid, Elizabeth Mullins, Staffan Nilsson, Paula O’Kane, Man-Gon Park, Helen Peters, John Polesel, David Rae, Linda Riebe, Rahim Sail, Sally Sambrook, Eric Sandelands, Denise Savage, Carl Senior, Peter Sewell, Sue Shaw, Alison Smith, Erica Smith, Vikki Smith, Roy Smollan, John Stanwick, Vesa Taatila, Michael Tomlinson, Richard Tunstall, Marina Ventura, Tony Wall, Greg Wang, Robert Weatherup, Vathsala Wickramasinghe, Jonathan Winterton, Stefan Wolter.
BBC (2011a), “ILO: world economy on verge of new jobs recession”, BBC News, 31 October, available at: www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-15519699
BBC (2011b), “‘Neet’ youths figure at second-quarter high”, BBC News, 24 August, available at: www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-14644613
International Labour Organisation (ILO) (2011), World of Work Report 2011: Making Markets Work for Jobs, International Institute for Labour Studies, Geneva
Vass, S. (2011), “Unemployment gives rise to the ‘trade-down’ generation”, The Herald, 16 October