Educating for work in the time of Covid-19: moving beyond simplistic ideas of supply and demand

Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
South African Comparative and History of Education Society (SACHES)
This article describes how the Covid-19 pandemic has been particularly negative for skill formation in South Africa but, at same time, there are high expectations for the technical and vocational education and training system to support economic recovery and individual livelihoods. We argue that many policy recommendations for how education can meet these expectations are trapped in a narrow and mechanistic notion of supply and demand. The knowledge and skills required to do work are not developed somewhere outside of the economy, and then ‘supplied’ to meet labour market ‘demand.’ Skill formation is embedded in a range of different economic, social, and political arrangements and systems. Policy notions of ‘supply and demand’ of skills also underestimate how the ability of education to prepare for work is shaped by the ways in which work is organised. We argue that both researchers and policymakers need to think about vocational skills development programmes within industry sector master plans that drive economic recovery. We provide ideas of how policymakers can think about education and work more holistically, and argue that the key move is away from market-based regulatory models and towards models focused on building institutional capacity.
Technical and vocational education and training, Vocational skills development, Skill formation, Covid, Supply and demand of skills
Allais, S & Marock, C. (2020) Educating for work in the time of Covid-19: moving beyond simplistic ideas of supply and demand. Southern African Review of Education, 26(1): 62–79.