# 91 The price of education
This cropped up on Facebook the other week followed a long string of comments about the value of education and the usefulness of a degree. It’s painfully true though in our modern age. My personal feeling is that getting that all important qualification has overshadowed the importance of life skills and experience in the real world. This is a very sad state of affairs.
Once, University was the privilege of the few. Now pretty much anyone can go. It has meant that quite a few people who really should have been learning a trade from the ground up and acquiring some life skills were cocooned in a never ending spiral of education. What it means in the long term is that there are a huge number of people leaving education in their twenties who have few life skills to equip them for the real world and the world of work. And even the standard of their education, from what I have heard from some employers, has been dubious. I keep hearing about poor levels of literacy, unacceptable work ethics and a lack of basic common sense in many new interns and graduates. You do wonder what on earth is going on in the classroom.
This isn’t the same in all courses however. In the medical profession for instance, substantial placements are part of the curriculum. And so it should be across the board.
Of course we are still in a recession. There is no doubt that continued study staves off signing on at the job centre, something the Government is happy about because it looks far better on the statistics for them to be in education rather than on the dole. But it’s not necessarily a worthwhile investment. Because in this day and age, if you need a job, just any job, your qualifications might not mean anything to anyone.
We have reached a peak. There was a time when if you had a University education, you would have been top of the interview pile for any job. Now you have to get a first in many degrees just to get to the first stage, because everyone seems to have that all important degree. If you have a third, don’t even bother. So what next?
Well many employers are now turning to CV’s and looking at work experience, what you’ve done with your life, not solely your list of qualifications. It’s become clear to many employers that you cannot always substitute education for life lessons. And many graduates finding work experience placements during their course might get lucky if they play their cards right as The Guardian reported in January of last year. The major concern is that many 21 year olds leaving Uiversity have little or no relevant work experience in their chosen field with which to impress potential employers.
There are also many degrees that at one time would never have had a course attached to them – mostly in the arts. If you were creative and inspired and you wanted to be, say, an artist or a writer, you just went out and did it. If you were talented and worked hard enough someone would eventually spot you.
How do you grade creativity? It’s a personal preference and styles and tastes change. Just because your lecturer might not like the way you painted that country scene it doesn’t mean it is wrong or deserves a bad grade. It’s because your interpretation is different. Why should you have to be told how to fit in as a creative individual? It’s about personal expression.
In what I do the course has been useful from a technical point of view. As a manufacturing course it has been invaluable but as a creative course – I’m beginning to wonder. And courses such as this are desperately over subscribed so how do you stand out from the rest of the grads in your year? The answer is simple to a point – work experience.
Use your independent creativity, make the most of your contacts, and make your own work to promote you as a person to be taken seriously by employers. If you’re a fashion designer for instance – make things and get them professionally photographed. It ISN’T difficult to do with so many TF teams around. If you behave like a professional, people will treat you like one.
You have to think on your feet once you leave University in whatever your chosen field. Take note if you are advised to get work experience as part of your course. And use the long summers in between to boost your employability. It will make a difference somewhere along the line.