The Problem of the Skills Gap Agenda in Canadian Post-Secondary Education
Canadian Journal of Educational Administration and Policy
The mismatch between graduates’ skills and the needs of the labour market is a continuing discourse in Canada and on a global scale. Yet, arguments on how to restructure PSE are not united. Given these competing discourses, we ask the following research questions: What should we make of the various representations of the skills gap, and how are contemporary PSE students positioned in this discursive space? We use Bacchi’s problem representation approach to policy analysis to examine four policy actors’ statements influencing Canadian PSE to examine the discourses surrounding the perceived skills gap in Canadian PSE. We argue that, while these policies call for disparate PSE reforms, they are all underpinned by the same neoliberal rationality. The different calls for reform reflect a harmonized and complementary set of discourses that reify PSE students as a single subject—a one-dimensional, homogenous, economic subject, devoid of difference. We suggest discourses that position PSE students as political actors in determining their education and roles in a democratic society are needed.
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