I have talked before about the serious question of whether young adults need GCSEs and A’levels in order to find gainful employment or secure a place in University. With the new Government and the uncomfortable fact that the country is broke, we are facing the prospect of degrees costing £27k + leaving graduates with unimaginable debt. So, being the parent of three adults I wonder what their prospects are. The boys both have jobs and Iona has a little work here and there. The thought of any of them taking on such a massive debt burden when, as things stand, graduate unemployment is rife, is absurd.
I can’t help thinking that more and more people will need to work and study side by side and that should make distance learning degrees such as those offered by the Open Univsersity more desirable. Looking at it from all angles; the student gets to work and pay for his degree bit by bit, thus avoiding all that debt (It’s how I did my degree). At the same time his CV gets to look pretty impressive to the employer who sees someone prepared to work hard to get where he wants to go.
The other option I see for the children is to go self employed. This has some advantages, but as anyone who has ever set up and run a business will tell you, it’s darned hard work and income can vary to scary degrees.
Right now there is a massive scrabble for Uni places to get in there before the price hike, but it makes me wonder what will happen to those young people. One of my daughter’s friends is being leaned on heavily to make up her mind what she wants to do NOW quick, before the price goes up!
The question we need to be asking is what is a degree for?
I can’t be only person who has noticed a lot of people doing degrees, getting into a lot of debt and then finding either there is no employement prospects with the degree they have (and it seems more and more that anything less than a 2:1 isn’t considered much of a degree at all) or they completed a degree in something they now wish they hadn’t done.
I’m not sure how much better it is in America, but at least there, the costs of University are offset by lower tax (for now) so that families have some hope of paying for their children’s education.
I am at a loss at how to advise the children. Talking to a fellow HE mum today I wondered whether there would be a push to get more apprenticeships, get people starting at the bottom and if the employer wanted them trained up then they could second them for a degree.
We watched the Victorian Street programme on the BBC (who just very occasionally come up with something well worth watching). It struck me that the butcher and baker both automatically had a family business – though back in modern life the butcher had just gone bust. The iron monger soon found that to run a shop and forge he needed an apprentice and so he took one on. There’s something “solid” if you understand my meaning, about a small family business that really produces something and can sell it.
Iona wants to run her own tea shop. It sounds silly when she says it, but the more I think about it, the more I am inclined to think she might be on to something. Life works better when it’s family based, local community based and not just about the money.
We’ve lost sight of what education is, and what it is for. The processed education in schools leads to pointless processed degrees which in turn leads to unemployed graduates.
It is past time to scrap it and start again. A country that can’t educate it’s children will never be economically viable and going by the fact that employers aren’t even taking on our graduates, we have a problem.