In yesterday’s Sunday Times (12.02.12), I find another article which explores the relationship between academic qualification and prospect in the workplace. (I talk about the Guardian article in blog about Career Reform).

In ‘Universities award up to 50% more top degrees‘, the newspaper’s Education Correspondent Jack Grimston reports that 67% of students who graduated in 2011 received a first or upper second class degree.

However, how does this work for employers? Isn’t the most essential part of gaining qualifications about improving your job prospects?

Mike Harris, Head of Policy at the Institute of Directors speaks for employers, saying that there is a sceptism about the improvements in degrees playing out across people’s suitability for the worplace.

Correspondent Grimston quotes Harris saying: “…employers still complain about really basic issues: lack of literacy and numeracy, lack of people doing science, technology and maths and lack of employability.”

It is a wonder that these issues are not tackled, in the current economic climate and with current unemployment levels.

Unfortunately, however, the decisions that determine what degrees people take are made when they are 13 years old and, for various reasons, very few people have all the considerations they need, to make their choices, on the table in front of them.

When you are 13, are you in a mindset that helps you make decisions and choices that have such a far reaching effect on your life? Are most newly-turned teenagers not more concerned with more pressing issues? Is working hard – even though this seems much more pressing now than it did in the 80s – going to compete fairly with hormones, complexion, dress sense, popularity, first sexual encounters, entertainment and peer pressure? On top of this is a haywire mishmash of conflicting messages from parents, teachers, friends, the media and already existing expectations.

Getting out on the street when you start work

Why I am asking this? The reason is that if more people are going to take science, technology and maths, they need to be directed through the right GCSEs and A’levels, and to work hard.

One question is: why can’t people change tack later on, maybe when ‘entering the world of work’ has entered their hemisphere, to study science, technology and maths? If a university can’t teach people these things over three years, what can they do?

Why do we need to already know about something in order to learn how to do it? What’s going on here? ‘Knowing about something’ and ‘being able to understand and do something’ are two separate skills.

Employability is about an ability to understand, adapt, learn and do things that you probably didn’t do much of at university. Are people not learning this essential skill during their degrees to heighten their attractiveness to employers?

Employers already have a big enough task when sifting through CVs to choose the best candidates. It needs to be possible for hard working, talented and ambitous people to stand out from the crowd. Otherwise, Britain continues to shoot itself in the foot and complain when someone from overseas needs to come and treat the wound.

It’s just a thought.

2 thoughts on “More on Employment and Academia

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