Tag: skills

Hedda podcast: Party politics and political economy of the welfare states


Professor M. Busemeyer (University of Konstanz)

Episode 47 of our podcast series features Prof. Marius Busemeyer (University of Konstanz).

In the podcast, he discusses some of the key findings from his recent book “Skills and Inequality. Partisan Politics and the Political Economy of Education Reforms in Western Welfare States”. Summarising key aspects of how skill regimes have developed in europe, he further reflects on what he as a researcher found as the most interesting finding and shares his thoughts on the practical implications of his research.

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Prof. Marius Busemeyer is Professor of Political Science at the Department of Politics and Public Administration at University of Konstanz. He received his PhD in political science from University of Heidelberg in 2006. Between 2006 and 2010 he worked at Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies in Cologne, Germany. He further received his Habilitation in Political science at University of Cologne in 2010. From 2011 he has worked as a professor at University of Konstanz where he is a head of department in Politics and Public administration since 2014. In 2010, he received a grant from German National Science Foundation (DFG) (Emmy-Noether Program) for his work on “The Politics of Education and Training Reform in Western Welfare States”, and in 2012 he received the European Research Council (ERC) Starting Grant. His main research interests are in the area of comparative political economy, welfare states, public spending, social democratic parties and theories of institutional change.


Report analysing PIAAC data reveals that American youth is increasingly better educated but with lower skills


Educational Testing Service (ETS), an US based private non-profit educational testing and assessment organisation has examined PIAAC data for US.

PIAAC is the short version for Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies, an OECD led project in 24 countries to examine the skills among adult populations. Here, PIAAC results complement the skills assessment of pupils with PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment) and AHELO (Assessment of Higher Education Learning Outcomes). Some of the initial analysis were published in late 2013.

ETS has examined PIAAC data for the US, and in particular for the so-called millenial generation that has been isolated from the total for this report. Their main starting point is that this is the best educated generation in the US history, but this generation also consistently appears to score below international average in literacy, numeracy and problem solving with technology.

Literacy in the PIAAC study is defined as “understanding, evaluating, using and engaging with written texts to participate in society, to achieve one’s goals, and to develop one’s knowledge and potential”, and it was operationalised both as an ability to comprehend and decode text as well as using the text appropriately in context. The test did not measure actual writing skills. Numeracy was defined as “the ability to access, use, interpret and communicate mathematical information and ideas, in order to engage in and manage the mathematical demands of a range of situations in adult life” and its operationalisation included both understanding mathematical information, but also a wider understanding of mathematical content – such as quantity and number; dimension and shape; patterns, relationships and changes; and data and chance. The third skill in focus in the ETS report is “problem solving in technology-rich environments”. While on first glance somewhat cumbersome definition, in PIAAC this refers to digital skills, that is: “using digital technology, communication tools and networks to acquire and evaluate information, communicate with others and perform practical tasks”. Here, a wide range of digital skills were evaluated.

Eurobarometer survey on European Area of Skills and Competencies

eurobarometerEurobarometer is a Europe wide public opinion survey that has been conducted since 1973 to monitor views on issues such as: social situation, health, culture, defence and so forth.

Occasionally, special surveys are also launched for more detailed analysis on a specific subject or topic.

Earlier this year, a special Eurobarometer survey was conducted on the question of “European area of Skills and Competencies”, a public consultation has recently been finished (view summary of consultation results here).

The report that summarises the main findings from the Eurobarometer survey was launched in June. The backdrop for the report are the recent developments of introducing instruments for transparency and recognition of qualifications, in essence the construction of the European Area of Skills and Competencies.

The themes in the survey include skills obtained in education and training, attitudes towards various aspects of education and training, studying abroad, documentation of skills and qualifications and flexible learning pathways, career guidance an the extent to which citizens seek for information on these issues.

Regarding the skills obtained, most view basic skills as most important, with some socio-demographic differences – the higher the level of education, the more likely people are to value specialized skills. Younger people are also likely to view foreign languages as more important, but this is also most widely considered a skill that can be obtained outside of formal education. Furthermore, the better educated people are, the more likely they are to think that languages can be learned outside of formal education. Workplace was considered by most as the arena to obtain skills outside of formal education.

Guest blogger: MOOCs, mom and me

Irene Ogrizek,  Dawson College, Montreal

Irene Ogrizek,
Dawson College, Montreal

Irene Ogrizek teaches English literature at Dawson College in Montreal, Quebec, and has developed online testing in platforms such as WebCT and Moodle. Furthermore, she frequently writes about education and digital technology on her own blog. In this commentary on the developments around MOOCs, she shares a rather personal story that offers some critical remarks on the current MOOC trends and concerns related to potential future impacts. 

Lately, I’ve been writing about MOOCs from a critical perspective, and that perspective has evolved from knowledge I’ve gained in both my private and professional lives. As one of my department’s fast adopters, I’m not opposed to using the internet as a teaching tool. However, it’s precisely my experience with online education that has me worried about the rhetoric I’m hearing from MOOC enthusiasts.

To manage cravings, recovering alcoholics are often told to “play the tape to the end.” It’s an exhortation to consider the entire experience, consequences included, of starting at one drink and ending at twenty. That’s good advice for those of us who aren’t addicted too: when possible, thinking a process through to its natural outcome is useful. MOOC enthusiasts, I suspect, are not playing the tape to the end, creating a worrisome disconnect between shortfalls in a student’s education and in the cost this can have for the rest of us.

One third of young people with a tertiary degree from China by 2020?

Global talent pool in 2020 (Source: OECD)

There is a widespread assumption of the developed parts of the world being on the forefront of development and innovation – with occasional warnings of up-and-coming countries. However, when examining where the largest number of graduates is going to be by 2020, the image looks very different.

Pedro Garcia de León, Corinne Heckmann, and Gara Rojas González  from the OECD have compiled and visualised the prognosis on the developments in participation rates in OECD and G20 countries. Their prognosis indicates that almost one third of people with higher education in the OECD and G20 countries are going to be from China in 2020.

The growth in graduation rates has been particularly notable in the non-OECD G20 countries, such as Argentina, Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, the Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia and South Africa that have shown almost 65% increase in enrolments between 2000 to 2010. On the other hand, OECD countries only showed a growth of about 30%.