Recent developments in 'training': The emergence of embeddedness in state policy

Year: 2001

Author: Strathdee, Robert

Type of paper: Refereed paper

Up until recently, the dominant response from western governments to the problem of youth unemployment has been to promote a high-wage/high-skill training strategy. Accordingly, governments have invested heavily in training programmes designed to improve the human capital of young people and, therefore, their chances the open labour market. However, to date, this strategy has not been effective, and youth unemployment remains high. The contention of this paper is that although high-wage/high-skill training strategy remains a powerful force for mobilising consent for new training initiatives, faith in this strategy has waned amongst policy makers. This claim is evidence through drawing on two recent initiatives designed to improve school-to-work/welfare-to-work transitions (Skill New Zealand & Enterprise and Career Education Foundation). Evidence suggests that policy makers and practitioners have adopted two, inter-related strategies for solving youth unemployment. The first of these is to employ brokers to generate employment opportunities on behalf of job seekers and the State. The second is to focus on soft skill development in an attempt to improve job seekers' 'employability'. Combined, these factors suggest that economic interactions remain embedded in the social infrastructure and that the State is attempting to prepare young people for the contingent labour market.