It’s not (just) about Jobs: Education for Economic Wellbeing

Author: UNESCO

Audience: Policymakers

Languages: English

Geographical Scope: Regional


Education’s role in relation to the economy is contested. One position is that education should equip young people to compete for jobs in the commercial marketplace. A contrary position is that education is precisely separated from the market so that young people can develop the relationships and capabilities that will allow them to thrive in society more broadly. This paper argues that rather than getting caught up in this longstanding debate we may find common ground if we ask a different question, namely: what sort of education will enable young people to create long-term economic wellbeing for themselves, their families and their communities?

Economic wellbeing refers to the personal and collective ability to mobilise economic, social and material resources to achieve personal and collective wellbeing. This ability can be understood to depend upon what the economist Kate Raworth calls ‘provisioning practices’ that provide goods, services, care, materials, and the basics of living (Raworth, 2017, p. 67). These provisioning practices include paid work in the marketplace in exchange for money, but also access to goods and services provided by households, by the commons and by the state. Education for economic wellbeing, in this perspective then, cannot be understood as a question of preparation for work alone.