Do we all need degrees? It’s been widely assumed that increasing the number of people going to universities can be a good thing for individuals, employers and the society, but this surge proves to be frail as research and surveys affirm the bedevilling unemployment rates that has left graduates frustrated and clinging on thin hopes of government change being the “Christ”.
In a country where the prevailing benefits of university education is merely rhetoric as high unemployment rates scar it’s very usefulness, one begins to question university education’s essentiality. As the number of graduates continues to increase exponentially, the number of businesses established within this period rather increases at a tortoise pace. Research suggests that, for too many jobs, the cost of university education outweighs its economic benefits, as many graduates are forced to do more non-graduate jobs. For a significant number of occupations, jobs haven’t been upgraded to make use of the allegedly greater skills that people have acquired at the university
Sadly most youngsters are left in “Catch-22s”, as parents practically plan and decide for their kids on what they should pursue at the university, others are confused on which career paths to take, so are either doing programmes thrown at them by their university of choice or pursuing a programme based on friendly advice. Improving the quality of career advice and guidance to young people so they can make better informed career choices about career pathways and information about non-graduates routes into the labour market will definitely ensure that most people are set on the right career paths thereby reducing the desire for unsolicited degrees and the high rate of unemployment. There are alternative pathways into the labour market such as vocational avenues that offer training programmes such as craft vocations which are non-academic that ensure individuals have handy and practical skills to set up their own workshops and equally be job ready.
The government needs to end “conveyor belt” approach to university and do more to create and promote high quality vocational pathways into work by establishing more vocational training facilities that prepares and trains students to work in a trade aside the prevalent graduate education that impacts mostly theoretical and academic knowledge. Quoting Peter Cheese CIPD Chief Executive, ‘Governments of all colours have long had a “conveyor belt” approach to university education, with a rhetoric that has encouraged more and more students to pursue graduates qualification, we need a much stronger focus on creating more high quality alternative pathways into the workplace, such as high level apprenticeship, so we really do achieve parity of esteem between the two routes’.
Young people should be made to understand that there are other pathways aside graduate qualifications and that the notion of university education being a lottery ticket to success is nothing but a fallacy, a degree may still be a right choice but the government needs to encourage students to look at all the options available to them, including non-graduate pathways into the workplace, also employers who demand unnecessary qualification, instead of considering merits and potential risk obstructing social mobility and inclusiveness. Educating, encouraging and instilling entrepreneurial zest into student will help reduce the dependency on government and increase the establishment and creation of more jobs while dwindling the unemployment rate but the government and institutions should jump on this bus to provide support and finance to students. At least every university by the support of the government and other institutions should have a venture capital fund that allocates funds to supporting and growing feasible business ideas of students.
Unemployment is not just a government problem it’s a nationwide canker, it has nothing to do with partisan politics or bad educational policies or IMF injunctions, it’s an “US” problem that requires a collective effort to beat down. Our over dependency on graduate qualification may definitely be the problem we overlooking.