Right. This has been retweeted into my Twitter timeline several times today (Twitter has the custom of doing screenshots to Daily Mail articles to avoid giving their website more hits than we need to, especially since most of the links are commenting on how awful the articles are)
I have a few thoughts. When I worked in FE (Up until last year) a yearly assembly was held in which we stressed to our sixth-formers the importance of obtaining A levels and going on to obtain a degree. I, by the way, had no input into what was said in these assemblies and I sometimes gave a more down-to-earth assessment back in tutor group sessions. We based this on the monetary value added by obtaining additional qualifications. A table was shown which worked out how much extra someone could earn with A levels instead of a degree and a degree instead of A levels.
Ordinary teachers, like me, commented privately on the fact that the amount of money that could be earned at the top of the teaching main-scale (currently £31,111 after 6 increments and a max of £36,279 with all 3 performance related payments which may be awarded at 2 yearly intervals) was referred to as “only” and it was indicated to students that they should aspire to more than this.
Students have also been encouraged to take on very large student loans on the basis that the additional money they will earn by having a degree will make this worthwhile.
Should we therefore be surprised that graduates are unwilling to take jobs which pay the minimum wage (currently £6.08/hour which works out at £11,856 for a 37.5 hour week) If you had started on minimum wage at 16 you would have earned roughly £43,485.00 by the time you would have left university.
Even worse is expecting them to take on unskilled jobs with (by all accounts) no useful training for your unemployment benefit. Would the author of this article do that job for that money? If not why expect someone else to? She also says that
“When you have 72 direct competitors, all offering a similar degree, an identical number of starred A-level grades and more or less the same clutch of Saturday jobs, sports awards and extra-curricular embellishments, you really have got to think outside the box, to make your own CV stand out successfully from that huge pile”
Well, here’s the thing. Not everyone can stand out, that is the definition of outstanding. I realise this may come as a surprise to Gove, Ofsted and some school Senior Management Teams but you can’t change that fact.
Cait Reilly, when she objected to working in Poundland wasn’t sitting around waiting for the perfect job to fall into her lap, she was already working, as a volunteer, in a place that actually would enhance her CV and help her towards the job she had trained for.
The government, and sniping right wing journalists want to make their mind up what they think education is for. Either it is to prepare people for work, in which case they cannot object to graduates expecting to do the work they have prepared for once they graduate, or it is for the sake of education itself, to enhance knowledge and make them onto better people, in which case they need to stop criticising qualifications as being “useless”.
If our graduates are expecting too much, it is because we have led them to do exactly that. We sell education as a path to making more money. Their real mistake is in believing us.