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The MisManagement of Talent: Employability and Jobs in the Knowledge Economy

Phillip Brown, Anthony Hesketh

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The knowledge economy conjures a world of smart people, in smart jobs, doing smart things, in smart ways, for smart money, increasingly open to all rather than a few. It also conveys an image of enlightened employers actively seeking to diversify their talent pool, reflected in their approach to identifying, hiring, and retaining outstanding talent.

We are told that the challenge confronting governments around the world is to enhance the employability of the workforce. Every effort must be made to expand access to higher education, dismantle barriers to talent regardless of social circumstances, gender, or skill colour, and to harness human creativity and enterprise to meet the demands of the new economy.

This book comes to a different conclusion. Those leaving the world of mass higher education find themselves in a scramble for jobs with increasingly high stakes for the winners and losers. It examines what determines the outcomes of this race when a degree loses its badge of distinction. It shows what really happens in the selection events of leading-edge employers. It also argues that talent is being mismanaged by many employers that have yet to come to terms with the realities and possibilities of mass higher education.

This book also challenges much of the rhetoric of the knowledge economy and questions whether the demand for university graduates has increased in the way that the proponents of the knowledge economy suggest. Drawing on my earlier work on ‘positional conflict theory’ the book highlights the problems confronting the middle classes in their attempt to secure tough entry jobs.

Oxford University Press , 288 pages , 29 July(2004), ISBN -10: 0199269548