Thursday, April 07, 2016

Credentialism is alive and well in Australia

The value assigned to more and more education is a great folly.  Jobs that were once done perfectly well by a high school graduate now mainly go to university graduates.  Teaching is a good example.  You mostly now have to have a 4-year teaching degree to become a teacher.  Yet for two years I successfully taught senior High School geography even though my highest qualification for it was junior High School geography.  I just kept a chapter ahead in our geography book.

As the ups and downs of the mining boom stole the headlines Australia was experiencing a less celebrated economic transformation: a know-how boom.

Since the middle of last decade the share of adults with an advanced post-school qualification has swelled dramatically.

In 2005 the proportion of Australians aged between 20 and 64 with a Certificate III qualification or higher has jumped from 47 per cent to 60 per cent (Certificate III level recognises advanced technical skills and knowledge, such as a tradesman). In that period the share of 20- to 64-year-olds with a bachelor degree or higher has climbed from about 21 per cent to nearly 30 per cent.

The trend for school students to stay in class longer is similar. Over the past decade the national year 12 student retention rate has climbed from 74.7 per cent to 87 per cent.

Government policies have played a role in boosting the number of adults with university degrees and technical qualifications but the main driver towards obtaining those qualifications is a perception among individuals that know-how has become a modern necessity. It's a reflection of a momentous economic shift towards knowledge-based employment. Those with higher qualifications are more likely to be employed, to earn more when they are employed, to increase the productivity of their co-workers, to increase innovation and technical change and increase employers' profits.

The proportion of adults with a higher qualification is set to keep rising.

That's good news, overall. But the know-how boom has also exacerbated a hazardous political fault line.

Despite all those new qualifications, a big portion of voters still have little or no post-school education. And that leaves them increasingly vulnerable to economic change.

Employment in high-skill, high-value knowledge industries has tended to grow more quickly than other sectors, especially in big cities. Low-skill workers are likely to face growing competition from new migrants, offshoring and even robots.

"It's pretty Darwinian out there in the labour market these days," says Dr Nicholas Gruen, the economist who authors the Wellbeing Index. "If you don't have a post-school qualification the odds are stacked against you."

That's an obvious recipe for discontent. You don't have to look far to see the strife this growing educational-cultural divide can fuel.

In the US, Donald Trump's unsavoury campaign for President has been underpinned by poorly educated voters angry about how society is changing. His candidacy has exposed a deep fissure in US politics: class and education. Analysts note that the single best predictor of support for Trump during the Republican Party primaries has been the absence of a college degree.

In Britain, the educational-cultural divide is a factor in the campaign to exit the European Union, known as "Brexit.

The Economist magazine points out those without tertiary qualifications are much more likely to favour "Brexit" than graduates. It argues that "Britain's great European divide is really about education and class". Britain is scheduled to hold a referendum in June asking voters whether they want Britain to remain in the 28-nation economic block. The latest opinion polls show the "Leave Europe" camp with a solid lead.

Should Britain vote to leave the EU the uncertainty would shake global financial markets and probably take a toll on the global economy.

Australian politics isn't plagued by Trumpism or Brexit but it would be folly to assume politics here is immune to the educational-cultural divisions on show in English-speaking democracies with whom we often compare ourselves.

"It's a big new divide all right," says Gruen. "We've seen it before with Pauline Hanson and to some extent the National Party. It's a pretty toxic situation."

The know-how gap in Australia looms as a significant economic and political challenge. That should shine the spotlight on the effectiveness of our education systems: from early childhood through to universities.


Terracini is on the case

Terracini is famous for his hats and his success in court.  He seems set to right an injustice

A top criminal lawyer has vowed to get murder accused Ben Batterham released from prison, as it is revealed he was covered in bite marks after he 'detained' an alleged thief found inside his home.

Mr Batterham, from Newcastle, north of Sydney, has been imprisoned at Cessnock Correctional Centre since being charged with the murder of Richard James Slater on March 27.

The father-of-one made no application for bail when he case was mentioned in court last week, but high-profile criminal lawyer Winston Terracini SC, who visited the prison on Tuesday with barrister Brian Murray, has taken over and vowed to make an application for bail 'as urgently as possible', the Newcastle Herald reported.

Mr Terracini SC, who has also represented high-profile clients like Harriet Wran, said Mr Batterham's family are organising a surety, while he has applied for a forensic pathologist to review the post mortem examination on Slater. 

The 33-year-old was reportedly heard on a Triple zero call threatening to kill Slater, known to his family as Ricky, after he found the convicted criminal standing near his young daughter's bedroom at about 3.30am on March 26.

His arrest has caused significant outrage in the community, with thousands of people signing a petition demanding his immediate release. 

Many have claimed that the father-of-one was simply defending his home and family after the convicted sex offender allegedly broke in.

It was initially reported that a fight broke out between Mr Batterham and Slater - who was understood to have been put in a choke hold on the street until police arrived.

However, a tripe zero recording that was obtained by the Daily Telegraph indicates that Mr Batterham could be heard threatening the intruder before a drawn out fight ensued.

According to the Newcastle Herald, Mr Batterham sustained a number of injuries in the altercation, including several bite marks to his body.

Slater lost consciousness in front of Mr Batterham's home following the brawl and was rushed to John Hunter Hospital where doctors found that his brain had been deprived of oxygen for too long.

His family turned off his life support and Mr Batterham's grievous bodily harm charge was upgraded to murder.

The father-of-one's was expected to remain behind bars until his case is heard again in court on May 25, but Mr Terracini SC has vowed to have his release 'expedited'.


'It's offensive': Men and women forced to sit SEPARATELY at Sydney Muslim conference - and attendees must buy tickets stamped 'male' or 'female'

An influential Muslim group is selling sex-segregated seating for a major conference next month, with male and female tickets being sold separately for the event.

Channel 7 reports that the United Muslims of Australia (UMA) has organised the Quest for Success conference in Sydney and they confirmed that those attending it will be separated by their gender.

This comes after radical Muslim political party, Hizb ut-Tahrir, were found guilty of discriminating against women after making them sit at the back of public meetings last month.

The issue came to a head during a public meeting in Western Sydney, where men were seated at the front, but women were made to sit at the back of the room.

Anti-discrimination campaigner Alison Bevege believed that the decision to separate men and women in this way at the Sydney conference next month was ‘offensive’.

‘It’s just as offensive to split women from men side to side as it is to split black people from white people from side to side,’ Ms Beverage said.  ‘It's appalling, it's a step back for women's inalienable right to equality.’

The price range for tickets makes no attempt to hide the segregation with an early bird male ticket costing $50, non-discount male ticket $70, and male student $35. Separate female tickets are available in the same price range.

On the Quest For Success website it states that the UMA is one of the largest Islamic youth and community based organisations in Australia, which has been running for more than 15 years.

It said the foundation was founded on traditional Islamic principles and focused on providing quality spiritual, social, educational and recreational programs and activities for the continued development of the Muslim Community within Australia.

‘We are excited to announce that the 2016 UMA Conference - Quest for Success - will focus on the journey of seeking success in this life and the hereafter,’ the website said.

‘The event will feature inspirational international and local guest speakers to share their vast range of insights, experiences and advice on how this goal can be attained by developing a blueprint for Muslims individually, within the family environment and the wider community.’


Must not joke about skin color

Channel Nine’s Today show presenters have been criticised for joking about being “too white” for a Gold Logie nomination after Lee Lin Chin and Waleed Aly were recognised by the television awards for the first time.

Announcing the nominations for the Gold Logie Today’s Karl Stefanovic made fun of Chin’s first-time nomination and remarked to fellow Nine presenter Ben Fordham that he wasn’t really white himself.

Fordham said: “Because this whole idea in the past that it’s been all white, last time I checked, Stefanovic ... where is that from? What part of the world is that from?”  “It’s from the eastern bloc,” Stefanovic said on Monday’s show.

“Correct, so you’ve been trailblazing long before Waleed and Lee Lin Chin,” Fordham said.  “I might look white on the outside but I’m dark on the inside,” Stefanovic said.

Fordham questioned why Lisa Wilkinson – who was sitting at another desk in the studio – hadn’t received a nomination given her many accomplishments in the media industry.

“Lisa’s too white,” Stefanovic said.

“I got a spray tan and everything and still didn’t make it,” Wilkinson replied.

The exchange was labelled racist by some people on Twitter.  The artistic director of the Melbourne writers’ festival, Lisa Dempster, tweeted: “Disgusted by Karl Stefanovic & Lisa Wilkinson’s comments about the #Logies. Not ok, guys.”

The Indigenous SBS broadcaster Michelle Lovegrove wondered: “So skin colour determines a Logie nomination?”


Posted by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.).    For a daily critique of Leftist activities,  see DISSECTING LEFTISM.  To keep up with attacks on free speech see Tongue Tied. Also, don't forget your daily roundup  of pro-environment but anti-Greenie  news and commentary at GREENIE WATCH .  Email me  here

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