About Andrew Smith

Social science, demography, business, economics, history, the Balkans, football, politics, photography, language, music, culture and reading widely; professional too. Professional sources include The Economist, LinkedIn Groups: Digital Marketing, VET and Higher Education Teaching, local and international. Ten years administrative and management experience in MIS, both public and private sector, in addition to twenty years of education and training, both supported by qualifications, Master of Education and dual MBA International Marketing. Twenty years of small business management experience including digital or e-marketing strategy, market research, planning, finance, HR and strategic management. Education and training has included English as a foreign language teaching, professional &/or soft skills training, undergraduate lecturing in business communication and human resources. Related skills and attributes include international & cross-cultural experience, research skills, training needs analysis, program and curriculum development, instructional design, delivery through diverse methods, LMS/blended learning, evaluation and digital marketing, with strong interest in marketing, communication and management related lecturing.

Soft Skills for Work and Employment

Soft skills for work and employment to complement technical skills have been recently highlighted, again, by a Deloitte Australia media release, following is a summary.

Soft skills for work and employment have been recently highlighted, again, by a Deloitte media release.

Soft Skills for Work (Image copyright Pexels)

 

While the future of work is human, Australia faces a major skills crisis – The right response can deliver a $36 billion economic bonus

12 June 2019: With skills increasingly becoming the job currency of the future, a new Deloitte report finds that the future of work has a very human face. Yet Australia is challenged by a worsening skills shortage that requires an urgent response from business leaders and policy makers.

The path to prosperity: Why the future of work is human, the latest report in the firm’s Building the Lucky Country series:

  • Dispels some commonly held myths around the future of work
  • Uncovers some big shifts in the skills that will be needed by the jobs of the future
  • Reveals that many key skills are already in shortage – and the national skills deficit is set to grow to 29 million by 2030
  • Recommends that businesses embrace, and invest in, on-the-job learning and skills enhancement
  • Finds that getting Australia’s approach to the future of work right could deliver a $36 billion national prosperity dividend.

 

Employment Myths busted

The report dispels three myths that tend to dominate discussions around the future of work.

Myth 1: Robots will take the jobs. Technology-driven change is accelerating around the world, yet unemployment is close to record lows, including in Australia (where it’s around the lowest since 2011).

Myth 2: People will have lots of jobs over their careers. Despite horror headlines, work is becoming more secure, not less, and Australians are staying in their jobs longer than ever.

Myth 3: People will work anywhere but the office. The office isn’t going away any time soon, and city CBDs will remain a focal point for workers.

 

The big skills shift ahead: from hands…to heads…to hearts

 

“That today’s jobs are increasingly likely to require cognitive skills of the head rather than the manual skills of the hands won’t be a surprise,” Rumbens said. “But there’s another factor at play. Employment has been growing fastest among less routine jobs, because these are the ones that are hardest to automate.”

More than 80% of the jobs created between now and 2030 will be for knowledge workers, and two-thirds of jobs will be strongly reliant on soft skills.

 

Critical skills and the multi-million gap

 

As work shifts to skills of the heart, Rumbens said the research reveals that Australia already faces skills shortages across a range of key areas critical to the future of work.

“These new trends are happening so fast they’re catching workers, businesses and governments by surprise,” Rumbens said.

At the start of this decade, the typical worker lacked 1.2 of the critical skills needed by employers seeking to fill a given position. Today, the average worker is missing nearly two of the 18 critical skills advertised for a job, equating to 23 million skills shortages across the economy.

 

The business response?

 

Rumbens said that getting ahead of the game will require concerted action.

The report includes a series of checkpoints business leaders and policy makers, can use to inform, and drive action. These include:

  • Identify the human value – Identify which jobs can be automated, outsourced to technology such as AI, and which are uniquely human. Use technology to improve efficiency, and increase the bounds of what’s possible.
  • Forecast future skills needs – Understand the skills, knowledge, abilities and personal characteristics of your employees.
  • Re-train, re-skill, and re-deploy – People represent competitive advantage. Consider alternatives to redundancy such as re-training, re-skilling or re-deploying as options to support existing workers reach for new opportunities.
  • Involve people – The people who do the work are often the best placed to identify the skills they require to succeed. Find ways to involve employees in the design and implementation of learning programs.
  • Talk about technology honestly – Engage in an honest dialogue about the impacts of technology to support staff and generate new ideas for managing change.
  • Manage the robots – Introduce digital governance roles to evaluate the ethics of AI and machine learning, alongside existing frameworks.
  • Use mentoring and apprenticeships – Micro-credentialing holds the key to unlocking the value of emerging job skills, while apprenticeship models are re-emerging as an effective way for business to develop a future-ready workforce.
  • Recruit and develop social and creative skills – Recognise and reward social skills such as empathy, judgement, and collaboration when recruiting and developing workers.

 

For more articles and blogs about soft skills and adult learning click through.

 

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Cost of Ageing Populations

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Elections, budgets and governance in most western and now developing nations that are democracies are being impacted by increasing numbers of retirees and pensioners in the upper median age demographic, being catered to by politicians, especially conservatives.

Growing budget imbalances due to increasing numbers of retirees and pensioners drawing on budgets with declining net contributors of working age.

Older Households Drawing upon Budget (Image copyright Grattan Institute)

From the Australian Broadcasting Commission:

The costs of an ageing population keep growing, but who’s going to pay?

 

By chief economics correspondent Emma Alberici

Updated 27 May 2019, 9:29am

‘…..The politics may be tricky but future governments will have to confront the grim economic reality of the post-World War II baby boom.

Australians born after 1946 began to retire in huge numbers in 2011. Demand for the aged pension, aged care and health services have been rising commensurately.

The working age population is a net contributor to the federal budget. Older people, on the other hand, are the largest recipients of welfare, aged care and health care services.

Retirees are getting expensive

A report released last month by the independent, non-partisan Parliamentary Budget Office (PBO) warns the ageing population will exert “historically unique” pressure on the federal finances in the decade to 2028-29.

New figures in the report show that by 2028, Australians born between 1946 and 1964 will cost the Government more than Medicare does each year. Based on 2018 budget forecasts, the PBO estimates the cost of Medicare to be $32 billion in 2028-29. By then, lost revenue ($20 billion) and increased spending ($16 billion) on baby boomers will amount to $36 billion.

The number of working-age Australians for every person aged 65 and over has fallen from 7.4 in the mid-1970s, to 4.4 in 2015. That figure is projected to fall to just 3.2 in 2055.

Economists and policy makers need to find new taxpayers and increase workforce participation to support the hordes of older people entering retirement.

The ageing population means that by 2028-29, the PBO estimates there will be 600,000 fewer workers.

While the Australian population has been ageing, life expectancy has also improved.

As far as the government’s fiscal fortunes go, it’s a perfect storm. The pension was introduced in 1909 with 65 set as the qualifying age for men.

While mostly conservative parties attract most of the upper median age vote they are or have been compromised by financial policies catering to the same, but impairing budgets into the long term.  Who’s going to pay? Younger generations…..

For more articles or blogs about ageing democracy and demography, click through.

Detection of Student Plagiarism Ghost Writing Contract Cheating

Recent media news stories and documentaries have highlighted perceived issues of international student plagiarism, collusion, ghost writing and contract cheating.

Most institutions have systems and processes in place to deal with, or at least ameliorate the impact of sub-optimal academic integrity, including higher language requirements (and level testing at enrolment), Turnitin and other duplication detection software, in class assessments, assignment workshops, feedback and monitoring.

Issues of plagiarism, collusion, ghost writing and contract cheating at university by students.

How to stop or limit ghost writing and contract cheating (image copyright Pexels)

However, like other sectors, education is prone to only lip service being paid by some commissioners, owners, shareholders, management, academia and related; rather than enforcement of minimum regulatory compliance it’s viewed as a voluntary code by some.

The following is summary of an article about the issue and how to deal with it, in an American context which has recently seen SAT and related corruption for entry to top universities.

Detecting and Deterring Ghostwritten Papers: A Guide to Best Practices (from The Best Schools website)

By David A. Tomar

1 Introduction For ten years, I made my living helping students cheat. I worked as a professional ghost writer, completing homework assignments, producing essays, and composing senior theses for alternately desperate, lazy, or disengaged college and graduate students.

I worked as an independent contractor affiliated with various online paper mills and, between 2000 and 2010, spent nearly every day of my life immersed in academic research and compositional writing. Writing as many as 5,000 typewritten pages a year, I earned as much as many professors.

In November of 2010, I announced my retirement in a tell-all article published in the Chronicle of Higher Education. Using the pseudonym Ed Dante, I covered what was, for many, a first glimpse into the shadowy underworld of academic ghostwriting.

 

2 The Ghostwriting Business. Before it is possible to prevent and police ghostwriting, one must understand the industry. Though many educators are well aware of ghostwriting, how it happens and that it most likely has occurred in their own classrooms, just as many others have a limited or non-existent sense of its impact.

Quite to the point, of the many reactions that greeted my original article in The Chronicle, doubt and skepticism were among the most common. Some truly dedicated, earnest, and otherwise astute educators refused to accept not only that wholesale cheating of this sort could be perpetrated but that it could be done so consistently and effectively without detection right under their noses.

 

2.1 Prevalence….. Still, we may be able to deduce a great deal just from the accessibility and ease-of-use of ghostwriting services. According to an article in the New York Times regarding rising rates of student cheating, “research has shown that a major factor in unethical behavior is simply how easy or hard it is.”

We can say with great certainty that it is easier than ever to employ an academic ghostwriting service. If a student has the money, he or she has the means.

The vast majority of students locate these services simply by doing a Google search for “Custom Paper Writing,” “essay help,” “term papers,” “homework services,” “essay writing services,’” or any number of other pertinent word combinations. Each of these terms will ultimately return dozens of pages of relevant search results.

From what is immediately apparent though, we can conclude two things about the prevalence of ghostwriting:

  1. The inquiring student will find it easy to locate a desired service and begin using it; and
  2. The enterprising freelancer will find it easy to locate an employment opportunity and begin earning income from it.

 

2.2 Pricing and Structure Most companies operate using a similar pricing spectrum, charging between $10 and $50 per page depending on proximity of the deadline. For instance, Mypaperwriter.com prices its custom writing services between $17.55 and $45.85 per page. This is in line with the pricing spectrum and structure of the industry’s more lucrative companies.

The variance is usually determined by deadline. This is the measure used most frequently to dene an assignment’s price. Papers due in a week or more are typically bound to the low end of the pricing spectrum. For anything due in less than a week, the cost per page will go up as the number of days goes down. A paper due in less than 24 hours will fall on the highest end of the cost-per-page spectrum.

 

2.3 Clientele The ghostwriting industry enjoys a customer base comprised of three primary demographics. These are the likeliest perpetrators of ghostwritten plagiarism:

2.3.1 English Language Learners: International students often arrive at American universities without a background or meaningful support in English composition.

2.3.2 Composition/Research deficient students: A startling number American students—for whom English is a native language—will actually suffer from many of these exact same deceits

2.3.3 Lazy students: Some ghostwriting clients simply lack the motivation and interest to complete their own work, a condition that Farnese et al. (2011) call “academic moral disengagement.”[7] In many cases, a perfectly capable student will utilize an academic ghostwriting service as a way to cut down effort or improve his or her chances of receiving a better grade.

 

3 The Ghostwriting Conundrum…… However, the web has proliferated and simplified cheating, dramatically expanding the accessibility, visibility, and ease with which students can lift, recycle or otherwise claim authorship of work that is not their own. Consequently, the growth of this industry helped to provoke the growth of the plagiarism-detection industry of which Turnitin is a leading example.

Other notable sites include Viper, Plagscan, Plagtracker, Grammarly, Small SEO Tools, and Plagiarism Checker.

Turnitin represents the gold standard in plagiarism detection. Even so, given the limitations inherent in plagiarism detection, even Turnitin has no way to bring its extensive empirical data to bear on ghostwriting.

With these conditions in mind, we point to a handful of detection and deterrence challenges that are unique to ghostwriting:

3.1 Original, non-plagiarized content: Most ghostwriting companies are faithful to this service guarantee and will terminate independent contractors for failure to comply.

3.2 Low likelihood of raising suspicion: Ghostwriting places the onus on the educator to have initial cause for suspicion. This requires the individual grading a written assignment to sense a disconnect between the student and the assignment, which of course requires some initial familiarity with the student in question.

3.3 Difficulty of translating suspicion into proof: Cheating is, of course, a serious allegation and students have a lot riding on the completion of their education. So obviously, the average student will go to great lengths to deny any such allegations. Students are not afraid to get litigious if need be. The point is, as an educator, one must be very careful about levying the accusation without hard evidence.

 

4 The Four D’s of Ghostbusting

4.1 Design Design refers to the way a professor constructs assignments, course materials, tests, classroom time and the semester-long curriculum. This is an area in education where quality control runs the gamut from excellence to criminal incompetence. There are plenty of professors who work tirelessly to tailor assignments, materials and examinations to remain in-step with constantly evolving subject matter, student culture and best practices. But there are also plenty of professors who recycle old materials without scrutiny and who depend wholly on text-based content which most students could acquire without professor mediation.

4.2 Deterrence Deterrence refers to ways of diminishing the inclination, motive, or desire to purchase a ghostwritten paper…..That is, students at least believe that they are cheating out of ease, normalcy, or necessity. The study finds that the onus falls on instructors to live up to certain student expectations regarding clarity and engagement of course content. The study identities this as the best route to deterring the rationalized impulse to use a ghostwriting service.

Practical Strategies

4.2.1 Individualization: Individualization of the educational experience can instill in the student a greater sense of commitment to course materials and to the knowledge and career opportunities thereby implied. Large lecture halls and online courses can create a sense of anonymity for the would-be cheater.

4.2.2 Conferencing: One thing that large universities and online courses have in common is that, if one desires, one can go an entire semester without ever once personally meeting a professor. There is comfort in this anonymity. Removing this comfort creates a deterrent that does not otherwise exist.

4.2.3 Emphasis on in-class participation: Mandatory class participation heightens the imperative for students to become familiar with course content. Mandating contributions to class discussions gives students a strong incentive to establish a consistent voice and perspective on course subjects.

4.2.4 Student engagement: This one is really and truly up to each individual educator. It is within every educator’s power to be as creative, energetic, inspiring, original, unpredictable, and engaging as he or she wants to be….Many students feel no remorse about cheating in a course from which there is a feeling of disengagement. Uninspired lectures, standard texts, and generic assignments serve as great ammunition for a student who wishes to rationalize his or her detachment.

4.2.5 Miscellaneous strategies of deterrence: Course discussions where students are invited to share research experience and knowledge Professor lectures based on and attributed to content drawn from student assignments A requirement for students to occasionally present research findings or other written work to the class or professor.

 

4.3 Detection Detection is both a manual process driven by professorial experience and a technology driven process with continued room for growth and improvement.

Practical Strategies

4.3.1 Assignment exit interviews: Standardizing one-on-one conferencing with each student following assignment submission requires each student to defend his or her writing.

4.3.2 Manual literary fingerprinting: Of the many strategies outlined in this account, this may well be the most readily adaptable to any context where writing forms a portion of the coursework. Here, the orientation process for any writing intensive course will begin with an in-class writing assignment.

4.3.3 File properties: One way to improve the chances of detecting ghostwritten work is to simply be a savvier user of technology than the average cheating student. It’s easier than one might think.

4.3.4 Computational literary fingerprinting: Based on the effectiveness and value of Turnitin.com as a strategy for plagiarism detection of the non-ghostwritten variety, this strategy may best predict the future of ghostwriting detection.

 

4.4 Dedication Detection is all well and good, but let’s face it, people good at detection are more likely to join a police force than a teachers union. Teachers are in the classroom to teach. This is where the fourth “D” comes into play. The instructor must be dedicated to the education of his or her students, not just to punching an academic time card.

Practical Strategy

4.4.1 Identify struggling students and see that they get help: These are the students who are by far the most likely to employ a ghostwriter. In order to reduce the presence of the ghostwriter in the classroom, educators must take pre-emptive steps to identify those who are most likely to need his services.

 

For more blogs and articles about international students, academic integrity and international education click through.

Essay Mills Ghost Writers and University Students

Academic integrity, copying, plagiarism, collusion, ‘ghost writing’ and essay factories have become a fact of life in university or higher education, internationally.  This article endeavours to explain how or why is it an issue but at same time, short on what are the solutions?

While western democracies, and the developing world, have politicians, business and public leaders openly flouting ethical standards through egregious corruption and related unethical behaviour, is it any wonder?

Some solutions are precluded by universities’ corporate or financial needs e.g. rather than (barely modified) assessments that are more efficient to grade (or worse more multiple choice), there maybe a need for a return to in class open book and variety of assessments?

Academic integrity plagiarism essay factories and ghost writing for university students

Academic Integrity at University (Image copyright Pexels).

From The Guardian, Chris Husbands:

Essay mills prey on vulnerable students – let’s stamp them out

Universities alone can’t stop the rise of essay mills. We need support from the government and tech firms to defeat them

In the 1990s, there was enormous optimism around how the internet would connect people and make knowledge available to all. Fast forward twenty years, and identity theft, cybercrime, online bullying and appalling sexual exploitation have become everyday news stories. Increasingly, it’s the perversions of the internet which dominate our thinking.

The business model is simple. You have an essay to write, you are time poor, you pay a fee for the essay to be written. The fee these crooks charge depends on the length, the standard you are looking for, and the deadline you are facing….

For universities, the digital world’s most concerning development is the spread of essay mills. They’re not new: it’s always been tempting for some students to pay someone to do their work for them. But the internet has vastly eased the relationship between customers and suppliers, fuelling the growth of these essay mills….

….Learning is based on integrity and scholarship: showing that students have read, understood and been influenced by the work of others, and can explain how their thinking is new or different. Education is not about getting grades, it’s about being an active participant in learning opportunities. If some of that is difficult, well, difficulty is the point….

….The Secretary of State for Education’s announcement that tech firms should block payments to essay mills and students should report on their peers is a step in the right direction. We need to work together to preserve the integrity of the UK higher education system from these unscrupulous companies, and the way they prey on vulnerable students who don’t fully understand the implications of their actions.’

Chris Husbands is the vice-chancellor of Sheffield Hallam University

For more articles and blogs about academic integrity, copying and student plagiarism click through.

 

 

 

 

White Nationalist Extremism – Mainstreamed by Politicians and Media

After the tragic white nationalist extremist event in Christchurch’s mosques by an Australian extremist white nationalist gunman, we have observed attempts by local and international politicians and media to explain.  However, they are also guilty of propagating or encouraging white Nativism, white nationalism and nowadays promoting ‘western civilisation’ for attention, power, influence over policy making and elections while demonising diversity and multiculturalism.

White nationalist extremism encouraged by mainstream politicians and media

Diversity and Multiculturalism (Image copyright Pexels).

In past decades, emanating from the US (according to Nancy MacLean author of ‘Democracy in Chains’), has been radical right libertarianism for corporates e.g. Kochs et al. and/or fossil fuel related sector to deny global warming, attacking science and education, demanding lower taxes, smaller government etc., while co-opting ageing conservative Christian evangelicals and white nationalists to vote the right way aka Trump and Brexit.

However, dog whistling and divisive narratives focused upon non-WASPs and non-Europeans, are also symptoms of a long-standing ideology, i.e. eugenics, which while being one and the same, has re-emerged amongst politicians, media and voters of the right in the Anglo world and parts of Europe (but described benignly as an electoral tactic), after becoming unpopular due to the Nazis’ experiments and holocaust.

This ideology, or power structure, is manifested and presented in multiple ways and media in Australia with refugees and ‘boat people’, US with Trump and UK with Brexit; back grounded by old WASP culture and isolationism.  Manifested as raw racism or promoting ‘whiteness’, ‘final solutions’ (to immigration), ‘globalisation’ (of people), promotion of border control or security, withdrawal from trade agreements, alarm round ‘high immigration’ or ‘exponential population growth’, use of offshore detention (camps/prisons), back grounded by criticism of ‘refugees’, Islam, and even local minorities whether women, recipients of welfare, LGBT, workers, indigenous or youth.

In addition to the poisonous ideology,  masked by dog whistling and proxy issues, is the transnational and systematic nature of the ‘architecture’ via academia, politicians and media (‘assembly line’ according to author of Dark Money, Jane Mayer) to normalise and spread the negative messaging; funded by (mostly) US radical right libertarians, oligarchs and selected think tanks.

Key architect, funded by oligarchs et al., was the recently deceased John Tanton, described in a New York Times article as the ‘most influential unknown man in America’, linked with Paul Ehrlich, Club of Rome, ZPG Zero Population Growth (supported by Rockefeller, Ford, Carnegie etc. foundations), Population Matters UK, Sustainable Australia, white evangelical Christians, white nationalists and his US Inc. based network now influences (or even writes) White House immigration policy.

‘Tanton’s own Social Contract Press has been influential: ‘The Social Contract Press (TSCP) routinely publishes race-baiting articles penned by white nationalists. The press is a program of U.S. Inc, the foundation created by John Tanton, the racist founder and principal ideologue of the modern nativist movement. TSCP puts an academic veneer of legitimacy over what are essentially racist arguments about the inferiority of today’s immigrants.

Not only had Tanton also supported the white Australia policy, liaised with ‘Sustainable Population Australia’ and its elite ‘environmentally minded’ local patrons, his TSCP also published and reviewed one of the most infamous white nationalist screeds which influences the controversial Steve Bannon et al., ‘Camp of the Saints’ (reviewed by Australian Academic Katherine Betts), from Sutherland in The Guardian 2004 ‘Far right or far wrong?’:

The book currently generating the most chatter is Jean Raspail’s Camp of Saints. First published in 1973, in France, no British publisher (a gutless crew) has been brave enough to take it on. In America, publication was sponsored, in 1985, by the ultra-right (ultrawrong), anti-immigration Laurel Foundation, under whose aegis it now sells like hot cakes.

Camp of Saints foretells an imminent “swamping” of Europe by illegals from the orient. Forget passports or border controls: they just hijack tankers and come, an armada of subcontinental sub-humanity: a brown tsunami. Europe is so enervated by liberalism and postcolonial guilt and depopulated by “family planning” that the alien tide (“with a stench of latrines”) just laps over the continent. A small resistance band (the “Saints”) is liquidated – by the French government. The immigrants come, they settle, they rape, they steal. Above all, they breed. Raspail calls it “the Calcutta solution” – genocide by stealth. Europe becomes a Dark Continent.

Raspail’s loathsome novel has recently achieved something like respectability. The author has a website and has been hailed “the Frantz Fanon of the White Race”. Camp of Saints articulates a western nightmare fashionable among neo-conservatives. Civilisations won’t “clash”. The developed world (and in the Middle East, Israel) will simply be out spawned into extinction.

What we now observe is frantic dissembling by most conservative politicians desperate to separate themselves from extremists, after their own unethical and divisive Nativist utterances or dog whistling from the past and present.