Developing high-skill local ecosystems: issues for fourth generation activity systems

3.1 Farther reaches of theoretical and methodological explorations
Paper in a Symposium (Symp)
3:00 PM, Thursday 31 Aug 2017 (30 minutes)
Afternoon Refreshments   03:30 PM to 03:50 PM (20 minutes)
The fourth paper – “Developing high-skill local ecosystems: issues for fourth generation activity systems” – from David Guile engages with variants of coworking and culturally more advanced central activity concepts, though from a radically starting point. Guile argues that successive UK government policies for skill development have been framed in terms of increasing the supply-side provision of skills to address an assumed high-, but unmet, employer demand. This policy has had mixed success: higher volumes of learners with higher qualifications, though not necessarily high-level, or even, employment. Drawing on work from colleagues (Spours and Hodgson, 2014) on the emergence of high-skill local ecosystems as an attempt to address the above supply-demand in-balance through education-employer configuration, Guile argues that such ecosystems are an example of a culturally more advanced central activity; but one that is based on a combination of co-configured capitalist and social production. In the case of the former, large-scale employers are working with Further Education Colleges to co-configure vocational programmes to address their skill needs; and, in the case of the latter, colleges are working with Small and Medium Size Enterprises to design vocational programmes to support the skill of coworking as an entry to freelance work. Guile argues that: (i) high-skill regional ecosystems are therefore characterized by a hybrid object of activity; (ii) the challenge is to formulate a unit of analysis to analyse this hybridity; and (iii) the outcome of this challenge will be a contribution to the development of fourth generation activity theory.
University College London (UCL) - Institute of Education