Research by The Daily Telegraph shows a sharp rise in the number of students aged 17 and 18 directly applying to leading companies after leaving school and college.
Employers such as Network Rail, Marks & Spencer, Laing O’Rourke, the engineering firm, and the accountancy firms PricewaterhouseCoopers and Grant Thornton are reporting huge rises in applications for A-level entry jobs this summer.
The disclosure, which comes days before students throughout England, Wales and Northern Ireland receive their A-level results, casts doubt on claims that degrees are a prerequisite for careers at top companies.
I would argue that the huge expansion of university, the one that\’s been going on for decades, was itself a mistake. Yes, quite happy with the argument that we\’re in a \”knowledge economy\”. Entirely happy with the idea that increasing the human capital of the population will increase future economic growth, even with the idea that peeps getting to do interesting jobs will make they themselves happier.
However, this doesn\’t necessarily mean that sending 35%, 50%, of the relevant age group through university is a good idea.
What we had was a failure of compositional logic (if I\’ve managed to use such a posh phrase this early on a Monday morning).
It was true that that 10%, 20% perhaps, of the peeps who were academically inclined went on to do interesting jobs with lots of human capital forced into them by their 3 years in academe. But this does not then mean that the next 20-40% of peeps will similarly benefit from being force fed bad courses at low grade institutions by low grade academics.
But some teenagers are shunning university altogether to focus on apprenticeships and other school entry-level programmes. According to figures from the Association of Graduate Recruiters, more than a quarter of leading businesses employ staff directly from schools and colleges and a fifth of other companies are considering opening up recruitment schemes to this age group.
For the first time, Boots, the chemist, is running an apprenticeship scheme for sixth-formers this year.
PricewaterhouseCoopers has so far received 1,600 applications for just 100 places on its employment scheme for A-level students. Applications for the programme, which leads to a chartered accountant qualification in four years, have doubled in a year and increased almost fourfold since 2008.
Some/many, most, possibly even all of that second group will be better served by training, not academe. The compositional error was therefore to assume that more human capital, more training, that knowledge economy, could only be reached by expanding university rather than expanding training.
It is, as you can see there, entirely possible to enter one of the professions entirely without a degree. One can qualify as a solicitor (just about, it\’s getting more difficult) without one too. And quite why anyone thinks that a degree is a requisite for a career in say, golf course management, is quite beyond me (yes, there is a degree course in this. Why would anyone who wished to do this for a living need to be exposed to fourth rate interpretations of third rate poseurs like Derrida?).
I\’ve a stepdaughter doing a teaching degree as an adult entrant currently, I peer over her shoulder occasionally at the work. I don\’t see anything in there at all which is \”a degree\” but do see an awful lot of being taught how to teach. It\’s simply not an academic subject and therefore almost certainly doesn\’t belong in the academic, rather than the training, environment.
Just to be snide for a moment, does anyone think the newspaper are getting better now that entrants routinely have post-graduate journalism qualifications? Rather than joining up at 15 as a copy boy (as per Les Hinton)?
And to spiral off into paranoia, why has all of this been done, this conflation of university with the only possibly desirable form of training? Perhaps because, by and large, the State controls how uni is done and it doesn\’t control how training by private companies is done. So an unspoken and underlying motivation to push 50% of the population through the unis is to make sure that 50% of the population owe their training to, and have been trained by, said State.
Which is rather likely to increase the future influence of said State, no?
Although I will admit to being interested by historical experience here. Those who come out with £50k of debt, those who should never have gone in the first place and who end up doing the same sort of job they would without the debt, might lose some of their faith in the benevolence and omniscience of that State. As, anecdotally, those who did National Service came out stating that they now knew that anything run by the Government was going to be entirely shite.
And note, it was those who had done post-war National Service who, when adult and in power, ripped down much of that all-encompassing State in the 80s and 90s.