# 77 (2013) It’s Time To Deal With Our Burgeoning Graduate Population
Because if there is one thing I’m fairly sure of, it’s that getting school leavers onto work schemes that teach them business skills, social skills, work ethics and gives them an income whilst they are still living at home, has to be better than three years in the hermetically sealed environment of the classroom living off what is essentially a Government handout.
Study rooms give a classroom protected view of working environments which offer them little experience of what life is really like and does not shape them ready for the real world. Additionally, it means that those students who are severely academically lacking may never get a job at all, which probably partly explains our huge problem with youth unemployment.
It strikes me that we don’t need any more post-graduate students. We need skilled workers not statistic meeting, classroom boffins. Now, this may seem like a hark back to the old days of the ‘class system’. And that’s because it is. And what is wrong with the class system? Not everyone is an academic. Not everyone is fit for Government office, and not everyone can be a plumber. We have a class system because we are an animal with a pecking order and you cannot change that no matter how many degrees you introduce or how many times you put up the minimum wage.
There are people who are good with their hands and not their minds and they have huge potential in the job market if they are given the right education and the right direction. Putting vocational students into academic classrooms and converting vocational courses in BA’s and MA’s kills these students potential because it is sterile and nonconstructive to their needs and abilities.
And because it is all about hitting targets it often makes their industry appear pretentious (I use fashion and Graduate Fashion Week as a case in point) and unrealistic.
We killed off the polytechnic years ago. But the apprenticeship is making a comeback. Businesses are already seeing the advantage to taking apprentices under their wing. But we need more. To me it represents possibly the best chance we have of rescuing our floundering employment market and our lack of properly skilled workers.
Vocational skills are learnt on the job and not in the classroom. They help students to decide what they want to do because they get the opportunity to try the job for real. How many students have gone through the university system only to discover they don’t like the industry they spent three years training to join?
That nothing seems to change year on year just surprises me. Everything seem to be about statistics and league tables these days, not about people and aspirations and abilities. And it just doesn’t work.
|Vocational skills are learnt on the job, not in the classroom (source)|