Sadly, my review of 2015 is that the great career bottleneck at the end of education is as problematic as ever. Amongst young people and parents, there remains anguish about access to job opportunities and placements, and amongst employers, there’s lots of disappointment about low levels of “work-readiness”.
Regular readers will know that we think the bottleneck will continue for as long as students and employers focus on academic attainment as the best metric for determining career starts.
A recent “Academics Anonymous” article in the (UK) Guardian examined the seemingly mutual breakdown in respect between students and academics. The academic suggested that whenever (some) students pay anything for an education they risk developing a sense of entitlement as to what this should entail. Academics feel aggrieved by this and bemoan the shifting norms in the student / academic model, especially in which the necessary regard for self-directed, inquisitive academic endeavour is lost. Naturally, there were lots of contrary comments from underwhelmed undergraduates.
The underlying problem stems from the issue of funding of higher education. Neither the students nor the educational establishments they attend are to “blame” for the funding situation we have, but it’s clear that their respective interests are not aligned. This confusion costs students (and their parents!)
Reading the vitriol and contempt on offer in the comments section of the article, I couldn’t help but feel despair and frustration because I know that many employers don’t care too much about academic attainment! I regularly speak to employers who rank attitude and commercial awareness ahead of academic attainment. One AGR statistic shows “Graduate” vacancies have risen by 11% in 2015, yet 44% of graduate employers had unfilled vacancies due to lack of suitable applicants. Our system doesn’t include the right knowledge within contemporary education.
Young people and universities are at cross-purposes. Academics seem to expect that young people enroll at university because they love a subject and want to extend all that is known about that particular academic discipline. Some or many students think that the degree is simply a “means to an end” for career initiation.
How does this affect parents? Aside the financial burden of university, it’s the anguish of seeing a child invest so much time and not receive what has been expected.
Having spent some years tracking the transition from education into employment, I fear for truly impartial careers advice when education establishments (schools, colleges and universities) are distracted and compromised by their funding, and employers are too overwhelmed by demand to advise all those who apply. Young people and parents must realise that they need to think outside the academic box for effective career advice, and when they do, hopefully they’ll realise that bizenko can assist.