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Education for industry: a complex technicism

By Glenn Rikowski


Employer criticism of British school-leavers is long-standing. Coherent statements by employers regarding their educational 'needs' have not materialised; employers' accounts concerning such needs are typically confused or contradictory. This paper formulates a 'filter' enabling better understanding of industry's educational needs. The starting point is that these needs are essentially labour-power needs. The 'needs filter' rests on this and another concept drawn from Marxism: capital. Furthermore, its development is grounded on a series of assumptions (that employers 'needs' can in principle be stated, that there are no contradictions within labour-power, and that employers' labour-power needs are realisable through education and training). After discussing conventional views on the 'needs of industry', the filter is presented as a series of labour-power needs for categories and functions of capital. Its utility for curriculum design, employers and researchers is explored. However, if the guiding assumptions underpinning the filter cannot be justified then the whole edifice collapses. It is argued that as labour-power is inherently contradiction-ridden then the filter implodes - along with it any notion that employers can straightforwardly state their labour power needs as a foundation for education and training planning and curriculum development

Topics: LC1081
Year: 2001
DOI identifier: 10.1080/13639080020028693
OAI identifier:
Provided by: NECTAR
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