Thursday, 20 August 2015
The cost of education
Much chatter on the airwaves about the news – honestly, it’s like they think this just happened – that it may not be necessary to hold a degree in order to chuck coffee in a mug and scribble a doodle in the foam. No shit, Sherlock. A CIPD report, no doubt costing millions and conducted by ‘experts’, reveals a truth know to everybody with a brain ever since Tony Blair repeatedly recited that holy word Edjumakayshun. It turns out - and I can scarcely believe this wasn’t as blindingly obvious to government as it was to me and every educated adult in the country that this would happen - that over half of UK graduates are in shit jobs that require no such level of learning. (That’s right, ‘over half’. I’d use the percentage value reported, but there is a good chance it would sail right over their heads and we ought at least try to engage them in this conversation.)
During the time we have had this massive increase in the number of plastic graduates it is shameful that we are also suffering exactly the sort of skills shortage an education programme is expressly intended to alleviate. But of course, there was no programme so much as a political agenda to prevent children maturing into responsible adults by pandering to their already pampered expectations of instant fame, wealth, success and happiness. A graduate of some vague discipline for which there is no real demand and no overall worth is no more likely than a bin man to possess the work skills of punctuality and hard graft ... in fact the opposite is almost certainly the truth; the school of hard knocks and the university of life are still more relevant in preparing most people for life after mum and dad.
But maybe New Labour’s expectation was that, contrary to the general way in which the world actually works, a raft of new skills might create its own demand? Because there has certainly been a massive increase in ‘studies’ and as any fule kno, without studies we know nothing. Rent-seeking competencies such as analysing the synergistic equality outcomes of trans-women within the framework of a multicultural, multi-faith, tie-dye society via social media are valuable means of diverting public funds that would otherwise only be wasted on, say, healthcare for the elderly, who are hardly worth studying at all.
The rise of such social commentators – for which read professional offence-whores and perpetual moaning machines – as the vacuous and irrelevant Laurie Penny has an uncanny correlation with the rise in the number of people who want to study such self-centred obsessions. It’s surprising here isn’t a whole curriculum based on totting up the many ways in which you can be angry about the world not being all about you. Degrees in aggressive feminism, angry race relations, jealous politics and almost anything that can be followed by the word ‘studies’ or end in an ‘ism’ instead of an ‘ology’ are highly suspect ways of creating a generation fit to take on the challenges of the modern world, but they are near-perfect vehicles for increasing the sum total of malcontent.
The report says graduates are ‘too qualified’ for their job roles; it doesn’t conclude that they are ‘too competent’. In the rush to inflate everybody’s grades the world of education has forgotten that qualifications do not a competent person make. This includes members of the highly ‘qualified’ teaching industry and its advisors. It must register with profound disappointment as well as a sense of bafflement that the explosion in university degrees has not resulted in an explosion in intellect. In fact one could almost argue the opposite; as a direct result of handing out degrees for all, the country as a whole is a bit more stupid. “The CIPD called on the Government to carry out a thorough review...” Well, here’s your thorough review, pal: It’s a fucking disgrace.