qualifications Modern *states are keen on promoting formal qualifications (i.e., with study, testing and certificates). These enable the state to make various *welfare-enhancing claims for itself, including 1) that it is educating people better than ever, which is an end in itself, 2) that the growth in the *economy is, or will be, due to its ‘investment’ in this ‘public good’, and 3) that the *public is being protected from unqualified practitioners of all kinds. None of these claims stands up well. 1) The *‘education’ that people receive is often dubious in itself, but the pass rates are manipulated as well. 2) Years spent in education beyond what one really needs or would freely choose to pay for is a drain on the economy, and education is not a *public good in any case. 3) Vocational qualifications exist mainly to restrict who can work, particularly in a *monopoly *profession where *free market *competition is severely restricted.

Generally, there has been an absurd qualificationitis in recent years. It would often be more efficient to learn on the job than take time out to ‘qualify’ first. Employers usually use formal qualifications more as a sorting process indicating the existence of some minimal intelligence and application rather than that anything useful has been learnt. Even where relevant, a qualification is at best more of a promise than an achievement in itself: those who have done best on paper do not always do best in practice. *Academics are particularly prone to overestimate the amount of human *capital produced by further and higher education: these are largely useless or otherwise *consumer goods. See *university.

A Dictionary of Libertarianism