The Economist “Back to School”


In a new study for the Lisbon Council, a Brussels pressure-group, Andreas Schleicher offers some calculations that try to estimate what degrees are worth to university graduates…The explanation, argues Mr. Schleicher, is that European education is stuck with an industrial mindset and has not adapted to the post-industrial world.

Post-industrial organisations insist that innovation must come from anywhere; that hierarchies must be flat; and that everyone should be well educated. Manufacturing required a pyramid: lots of unskilled manual workers, some skilled ones, plus a few highly educated managers. The schools that meet this old demand – with early selection of students into academic and vocational streams, elite academic colleges and good vocational training – are still around, especially in Germany and central Europe. They are testimony to Europe’s resistance to change.


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