Task 2C: Cultural and social conditions in English-speaking countries

Introduction

Task 2C requires you to create a text about one of the cultural or social conditions affecting people in English-speaking countries that you have studied and to discuss who the winners and losers appear to be. You should refer to texts from the preparation material and/or sources that you have worked with during your course.

As we cannot choose the social or cultural condition you will discuss, we will give you an overview of the cultural or social conditions affecting people in English-speaking countries in the most relevant texts included in your preparation material.

Text 1

Text 1 discusses the importance of apprenticeships for gaining “valuable work experience” while working and learning. The text suggests a culture in which the winners are those who invest in their education and who prepare for the job market through practical work experience.

The text suggests that getting an apprenticeship is very competitive, and the winners are those who manage to impress employers through education, skills, experience, and career ambitions: “However, to secure an apprenticeship you have to sell yourself to employers and produce the best possible application for an apprenticeship.” (ll. 3-4).

Reflect on whether this competitive culture is healthy. For example, why do apprenticeships require work experience when their role is arguably to provide that initial work experience? Consider also whether the competitiveness of the sector puts too much pressure on young people. Some might consider themselves losers if they do not get an apprenticeship, for instance.

Text 2

Text 2 explores the issue of vocational education in countries like India, South Africa, and the UK.

The text mentions several times that, when it comes to education, people think the successful ones will be those who pursue academic studies, rather than vocational training: “Everyone says vocational education is a good thing and it's vital for the economy. But, and there is always a but, the academic pathway still has the higher status.” (ll. 4-7); “ ‘Globally, the stigma of vocational education often reduces it to a second choice to academia’… ” (ll. 14-15).

However, countries that do not invest in vocational training stand to lose most. Many companies are in need of skilled workers while increasing numbers of young people need to find a job. This is the case of India:

India's rising population will see its labour force growing by 32% in the next two decades - with tens of millions more young people needing to find jobs. But at present only 2.3% of the workforce has had formal skills training. (ll. 18-20)

But even when governments recognise the importance of vocational education, this does not guarantee success. Such is the case of South Africa and the UK.

In South Africa, there are skilled workers, but they often do not have the skills required by the market: “For instance, it says there is a surplus of trainees in sales and communications, when the real shortag...

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