FORUM: Participation in education and work; identity and social exclusion.(BLOCK 2)

School and work (BLOCK 3)




Reply to Claudia’s post

Claudia wrote: Oh Larissa, I read your post and I identify quite the same situation that we live in Mexico about discrimination. Besides the characteristics you mentioned, in Mexico is important if you’re “good looking”, light skin, slim body, height, etc. Of course “pretty” people have the “nicest” jobs. I found this degrading cause we are a “mestizo” culture (Indian and Spanish).

What I know is that Brazil is much more multicultural, anyway as I said before there are so many things in common.

Claudia, Larissa,

The situations you described are not unlike certain situations in Europe. In Italy it’s widespread practice to hire people based on who they know and not what they know. The technical word for that is “raccomandazione.” In Germany, that on the surface seems fairer in its hiring policies, the phenomenon also exists and is know as “Vitamin B” ( B stands for the German word Beziehungen, i.e. “connections”); in the US, where discrimination is for the most part prohibited by law, the same phenomenon is called “networking.”

Here is another example of how discrimination occurs in different countries. In the US, a resume’ should not contain information about the applicant’s place of birth, age, and definitely no picture is required. In Germany, the same information and picture are required on a resume’. One could argue that hiring outcomes in Germany may be affected by such information, and probably they are. The fact is that, like in the case of the US, even when the information is not explicit, employers have ways to find that out: age is easily inferred by the length of employment and education records; race may be linked to the location of schools or from the applicant’s name. Of course, such inference would be arbitrary, but that is exactly what discrimination is about: arbitrary exclusion based on stereotypes and prejudices.

The difference between western and other countries may be that, although discrimination happens apparently everywhere, in the West we find that, at least on paper, the phenomenon is under control. But is it really? Obviously not. E.U. policies and actions against discrimination are great, and hopefully, in the long run, they will produce the kind of paradigmatic change that will eventually make discrimination obsolete.

For more information on E.U. policies on issues of access and discrimination, see

European Commission, Action against discrimination, Civil Society http://ec.europa.eu/employment_social/fundamental_rights/index_en.htm

European Commission, Access to employment and social inclusion http://ec.europa.eu/employment_social/esf/fields/employment_en.htm


Reply to Dana’s post — Variation in hiring policies in different countries


FORUM: Current development and discourses on work and learning


Reply to Dana’s Post – – access and social justice (link to Itslearning)

Dana wrote:

I don’t think that Masters Degree should be the only measuring stick of employees!

In the U.S. it’s not uncommon for a job description to require “a master or equivalent experience.” Compared to the much stricter selection requirements displayed in German job announcements (that consistently use language from that draws directly from the national classification for education and training), the U.S. wording  leaves a window of opportunity open to non-traditional candidates.  However, in the case of public employers, very often such job postings are phony, as the institution already has its eyes on a particular candidate that is likely to be already working there. I understand that this is a different issue, but thought of mentioning it anyway.

Reply to Helga’ s Post – – access and social justice


FORUM: Current development and discourses on work and learning


Reply to Helga’ s Post – – access and social justice  (link to forum)

Hi Helga,

What a wonderful thread! I really enjoy reading all the interesting posts. I checked out Claudia’s e-portfolio profile and realized that she has quite a bit of experience in this area, which definitely adds to my interest in reading all these posts. I added my comments below.

HELGA WROTE: Seems that in a lot of countries there is a meritocracy, where those with higher qualifications are recognised (even if its only for an interview). This idea is not pervasive in Australia where those who are highly educated are regarded with some suspicion and distrust –  the idea is that those qualified people are trying to pull rank or be “better” than their mates. This particularly applies to recent arrivals, where there is still an apprehension that they have come to “take our jobs”

As an immigrant, I became very familiar with this Australian trait and learned to know it as “the tall poppy syndrome.” (basically and crudely, those who stand out get pushed back down into alignment with all the others). I found that particular issue one of the most striking differences between the U.S. and OZ. Based on individualistic premises, in the U.S. personal self-reliance and initiative are highly encouraged. As for the “they-come-to-take our-jobs” attitude, I just posted another message about Italians being chased away by fearful British workers in these days. Would the historic link between Australian and the U.K. serve as an explanation of such similar attitudes? Although we also know that the same could happen in a lot of other places.

HELGA WROTE: One way of dealing with this is to require that they undergo local training. I have come across many highly qualified doctors whose qualifications and experience are simply not recognised here and who are not in a position to undertake extensive retraining. What a waste of human capital!

Yes, I agree. I remember bringing this up in our first course. It also reminds me of my personal experience upon my arrival in Sydney. I thought I was being looked with suspicion because I had an American education rather than the required Australian credentials.

HELGA WROTE: As far as qualifications in the service industries go, the government here, with the agreement of industry,  has made some kind of qualification mandatory  in many previously quite menial jobs. Therefore, to work as a waiter/waitress, one now needs a Certificate in Hospitality (or be prepared to get one). To work in childcare, one needs a Childcare Certificate or Diploma, and these requirements are now spreading to Aged Care, Disability etc. Even to work in retail as a shop assistant, employers are looking at some kind of certification.

This reminds me a lot of the system in place in German-speaking countries, and to some extent – based on what I read – also in Scandinavia, where the VET system is highly structured. For those who grow up with such system, things will eventually fall into place. Credentials are built over the years, through formal education and a mechanism of workplace training. But for those who are new to the country, no matter what their credentials are, they would be feeling like aliens in a system that does not have much room for variation and foreign alternatives.  This is definitely true for Germany, though I am not sure if the same also applies to the Nordic countries. Such certifications have also found acceptance into Australian immigration laws. Up to the late 1990’s “skilled migrants” was accepted based on their potentials; now they have to go through an evaluation process of their education and professional credentials.

HELGA WROTE: Having written that, I realise that we seem to be heading towards some kind of “norm” (or mediocrity) –  no one too qualified and no one totally unqualified. That means that those outside those parameters will have the most difficulty finding work.

Helga, I agree with you. If one goes the motions, adjust to requirements and the system, s/he’ll be o.k. For those instead who – in spite of high qualification and valuable experience – do not match in-country requirements, life can be very difficult. This is definitely an area where nation states do not want to give up control, no matter how much they otherwise support policies of globalization of both the market and education.

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