The Employability Paradigm Essays

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The Employability Paradigm

Denis O’Sullivan’s Cultural Politics and Irish Education since the 1950’s (2006) makes the argument that early school leaving has traditionally been understood as a failure of the individual to succeed within mainstream schooling. This essay plans to outline and support O’Sullivan’s argument and also to show how the political and educational system in Ireland has created a criterion for success which guarantees a certain amount of failure.
O’Sullivan’s (2006) argues that the Employability Paradigm which emerged in the 1970’s served to distinguish a group of students who were not achieving the standard needed to guarantee employment. Employability is the assessment of those with the lowest chance of success
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The acceptance of the Employability paradigm in Irish policy was a direct result of the fallout from the Investment in Education report in 1963(O’Sullivan, 2006) which firmly connected the Irish education system to our economic ambitions. The need for a skilled workforce led to the aforementioned increase in the importance of credentialisation (Fitzgerald 1965). That there would always be failures within the system was obvious from the outset. In his Studies article on Investment in Education, Garrett Fitzgerald stated that “The crucial conclusion that emerges from this confrontation of estimated manpower supply and demand is that although, of course, there will be an overall surplus of manpower, there will be a severe shortage of holders of Intermediate Group Certificate” (1965 p367). A large part of this surplus of manpower would eventually become the early school leavers who created the need for intervention in the 1970’s.
The concept of employability also gave birth to the Europe wide Youth Employment Crisis (Korenman & Neumark 2000) which became part of the social discourse in this period. Although youth employment was fast becoming part of European policy and debate, within Ireland this crisis was unique. Emigration from Ireland during the 1950s had reached its highest level since the famine with half a million, mostly young, people leaving the country (Mac Einri 1997). This trend had slowed by the 1970s and, coupled with

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