Last week saw the ridiculous riots at Millbank Tower in response to the necessary spending cuts announced by the Government recently, and of course most particularly – the reduction in student loans. What was intended to be a peaceful demonstration, turned into a debacle as the fury was whipped up around student circles so much that too many people turned up, and some people who probably had no business with student loans in any case turned up to pelt police officers, throw chairs, and ramraid windows at the Conservative HQ reception area.
Mothers of students, you must be so proud of your sons. You always hoped they’d go to university, so they could do this.
Clearly these students weren’t Ecomonics students, but most pressingly, can we call these people the `Academic Elite` of our country?
Well that’s the problem – they are not.
When I was at school in the 1980’s the term `graduate` was a medal of honour, a certificate of being in the 5% elite educated minds in the country, and you had to work seriously hard to get into University. People who know me, will know that I’m a pretty intelligent bloke, I would like to think. My parents really aspired for me to go to University – but I wasn’t good enough – I didn’t get the grades needed. Not even for a Polytechnic, the second tier of degree-based education which soon after was merged into the University system, and subsequently began the process of dumbing down Graduate status.
So, I had to work a 5 day week, in fact a 6 day week – dread the thought to the modern student!! I made a decent career out of it, spending most of my career earning `above the average`, and proving the academia wasn’t everything. My best mate also failed his exams, joined Barclays on YTS at 16 on £39/wk and was a Director of Barclays by 25 years old, and is about to move to Africa to head up the largest bank in the continent in 10 countries. Not bad from 3 GCSEs. Incidentally, he now has a Cambridge degree and a Harvard diploma through his professional development. He’s in the world `elite`. But he passed just 3 GCSEs.
The cuts are a spike into our system, all the cuts are – but without getting too political – the mismanagement of the economy that led to the recession meant this decisive government who acted to rescue the country rather than panda to a popularity agenda, have had to make such adjustments. I don’t know if this was part of the agenda, but by making the prospect of University existence less manageable, and more of a risk – they in doing so will probably reduce the numbers of future graduates. It’s not the perfect way of achieving this – but it’s a good thing. Why?
The graduate for years now has duped into believing that getting a degree; any degree; will enhance their career prospects. Well I have news for you. It doesn’t. Unless of course you came out with a practical, career-applicable, or academic subject. The ability to do a degree in everything from film studies to ball juggling in the past decade or two has meant Universities have been `open for all`, and no longer the elite. Very PC, sure – but it has dumbed down the Graduate.
We need to get more people working at 16 or 18 years again, and get people understanding how you build a career through application, experience and hard work – but most importantly – professional attitude. People will say there are no jobs out there. Well 4500+ new jobs were added on Monster yesterday in the UK, and over 1000 on reed.co.uk – just to take a sample.
Interestingly, of those c1000 on reed.co.uk, only about 60 had the word `graduate` in the job title or job description. Of the 4500+ on Monster, only 228. Between 5% and 6% of all work posted on those sites yestetday required someone of a graduate calibre.
For those who target a career with specifically with a graduate education at the heart of the necessary – go for it – it will cost you more in loan gathering in the short term, but your rewards will surpass that – and when there are less university students, those costs will come down again because the state will have to support less such people.
For those employing staff, think about taking on a 16-18 year old apprentice again on a low entry salary like my Barclays mate was, and train them to be incredible, like my Barclays mate.
For those who advise 15-18 year olds on their career opportunities – be practical – University ISN’T for all, it’s for the academic elite – and less than 10% of advertised jobs require a degree.
The rest of us should go to work, intern, take apprenticeships, and build a career that will usurp your misplaced graduate mates when they leave university at 22 years old and subsequently sit in a call centre for a year…
…with you, managing them.