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Is there too much emphasis on qualifications?

(43 Posts)
LaraGransnet (GNHQ) Thu 16-Aug-18 11:47:18

We've been asked for gransnetters' views on the news story today on A Level results.
Are qualifications the be all and end all? Is there too much pressure on children to get a degree? What advice would you give your children/grandchildren? Did you end up doing what you trained to do?

paddyann Thu 16-Aug-18 11:53:27

I left school as soon as I could , at 15,with no qualifications .I had my own business by 21 .I'd tell my GC that they should only go to uni if its for something where paper qualifications are essential .e.gMedicine or law .Otherwise if its a vocational job they're keen on get started as soon as they can ,nothing beats experience in my book .As an employer for over 40 years we've had so many young people who think because they have a "qualification" they are entitled to start further up the ladder,sadly many dont have a clue about actually WORKING ,turning up on time and obeying instructions ,in fact common sense can be quite thin on the ground .

Luckygirl Thu 16-Aug-18 12:12:19

I feel sorry for children who are tested to destruction from the age of 5. They get their A level grades and then slog their way through uni, accumulating vast debt - then have to face the prospect of unemployment as a real possibility.

I think that apprenticeships and traineeships are a good route where they can earn money (rather than getting into debt) and have a real concept of the world of work.

The rush to go to uni, with its devalued qualifications, is not necessarily a logical step. Most decent graduate jobs need an add-on PG qualification too.

Doodle Thu 16-Aug-18 12:15:18

Neither of my sons went to uni. Both have good jobs.

FlexibleFriend Thu 16-Aug-18 12:23:42

Neither of my Sons went to Uni either and both have good jobs, neither has ever been out of work either. The eldest applied and was accepted at Uni and had a complete change of heart and direction at the last minute and claims it's the best decision he's ever made.

Auntieflo Thu 16-Aug-18 12:25:56

Our youngest son did not finish his degree. He was offered a job, took it and has gone from strength to strength. "A bird in the hand", sometimes can be better for an individual, as they could struggle to find employment that relates to their degree.

janeainsworth Thu 16-Aug-18 12:38:55

I don’t think that a university degree should be seen simply as a means to a job. A university course should be much more than that.

It isn’t for everyone of course and no young person should be pressured to go if they don’t want to.

But the opportunity to study a subject you’re interested in, meet people you would otherwise not meet, broaden your horizons and broaden your mind is an experience most young people benefit from, and perhaps those who benefit most are those from what are referred to as ‘disadvantaged’ backgrounds.

The imposition of university tuition fees is one of the most divisive things that has been done in recent years.

When I was at university in the late 60s, maintenance grants from local authorities meant that for most people there was no financial bar to going to university.

I think it’s very sad if young people are choosing not to go because of the huge debts they will incur. sad

M0nica Thu 16-Aug-18 12:40:26

I think it is very restricting. When I left school, most professions had a variety of ways of entering them depending on whether you had O'levels, A' levels or a degree.

I had several friends whose education was truncated early for reasons beyond their control but were able to become, chartered accountants or solicitors because there were ways of training on the job. Now they would first have to go back to college to get A levels then go on to Uni. It would 4 or 5 years before they could even start looking for work in their chosen field.

Life has, however, got more complex. Many of the jobs that could once absorb youngsters with limited education have gone, victims of automation. Take agriculture, yes, there is still a demand for seasonal labour for crop picking, but the average full time farm worker now has to operate complex machinery, often computer controlled and be able to understand complex crop management schemes. All these require good technical training and a real understanding of the science and biology of growing crops and looking after animals.

Yes, there is too much pressure for young people to get degrees. Many of the subject now being offered are not degree level. DD got her first degree in acting. The course she did was laughable in its academic content compared with the history degree DS studied for. It had been turned into a degree because then the students on it could get the financial help then available to undergraduates but not others on further education courses. She has since done an OU degree in science and engineering, which was academically challenging and she rapidly found work in her chosen field.

However it need to be remembered that even apprenticeships require training in college and that the apprentice has to pass exams to get the qualification that is necessary for him to make a career in his chosen profession.

Anniebach Thu 16-Aug-18 12:47:45

Depends what career they want. Grandson took degree in economics , has a good job and is now studying for his charted accounted exams which will, if he succeeds, mean promotion in the company, elder granddaughter is studying law whilst working in a law firm, she went to university. Youngest is studying criminology and psychology, they need to get a degree. Now exams are over we are getting applications for apprenticeships in building. So depends on career choices.

humptydumpty Thu 16-Aug-18 12:54:39

The other advantage of tertiary education is that, if the child is not sure what they want to do, they have the opportunity and space to explore, with the possibility of doing a vocational postgrad course, rather than committing themselves to a future career at only 18, which they may subsequently come to regret.

MiniMoon Thu 16-Aug-18 12:58:13

Both my children went to university. My DD got her degree in Anthropology but has never used it. She now homeschools her children. My DS did not get his degree. He stayed to the end of the course but was thoroughly disillusioned by the finish. He has not gone into the media but is now manager of Domestic Services in a small hotel. Both are happy.
I did not go to university. I had several jobs before finding Mental Health Nursing. In those days you learned on the job, no university involved, and I think it was a much better way to learn.

Luckygirl Thu 16-Aug-18 13:04:27

I absolutely agree that university should be and often is a chance to broaden the mind - but sadly, now that it is such an expensive option, most students look for something that has some end-product in terms of employment and income, as they start their working life with debts.

TBH (and I prepare to be shouted at) I think some of the degrees on offer are laughable.

And some qualifications that have been changed to degree courses have been the worse for it - e.g. nursing. Nurses with bits of paper, but no empathy or nowse on the ward are no asset.

The problem lies in the fact that a degree is seen as carrying status, and vocational training (which is what is needed) is devalued. We need to reverse that attitude.

Beau Thu 16-Aug-18 13:12:40

I left grammar school at 15 when my parents got divorced because I wanted to get away. However I always struggled to earn enough to live on as I was pregnant by 18 - DD did not want that for herself so worked really hard for her A levels at local grammar school, did a law degree then law college. Now she's a successful corporate lawyer married to a consultant and DGS is expected to be a doctor or a lawyer too (by his daddy anyway - he's not 2 yet 😉

Missterious Thu 16-Aug-18 13:25:07

Speaking as a former lecturer I found that many students were badly advised to enter a university. They really struggled academically but believed it was their only option if they wanted a bright future. At the end they might only gain a third class degree but would have the same level of debt as a first class student.

Jalima1108 Thu 16-Aug-18 13:27:11

paddyann your post reminded me of something I was told a while ago:

"A" Students Work for "C" Students and "B" Students Work for the Government^

Luckygirl - some nursing jobs do need very specialised training, possibly to degree level or more, but we need to bring back more practical training for those who want to nurse to a higher standard than assistant level, such as the SEN qualification, but who may not achieve the academic qualifications to go to university.

Looking at the younger members of our wider family, some went to university, some did not but all are achieving well and I can't say that those with degrees, masters or higher qualifictions etc are necessarily any happier or better off than those without - but all have qualifications of some kind if not a degree. Not all went straight to university after school and some did a degree through work. What they do all share is a work ethic.
Many of them are not doing the type of work which they originally trained for either.

Of course, some people are 'late developers' too.

and DGS is expected to be a doctor or a lawyer too (by his daddy anyway - he's not 2 yet
I do hope that that is a joke

janeainsworth Thu 16-Aug-18 14:55:36

And some qualifications that have been changed to degree courses have been the worse for it - e.g. nursing. Nurses with bits of paper, but no empathy or nowse on the ward are no asset
Luckygirl I think we have to remember that the change from State Registration for nurses to a degree qualification was one which was vigorously campaigned for by the Royal College of nursing as a means of improving the status of nurses, improving their pay and perhaps most importantly, expanding career pathways available to them. Similarly with the Professions Allied to Medicine, physiotherapy and Occupational therapy.
If there has been a perceived loss of bedside skills surely this could be addressed within the degree course, rather than just harking back to the ‘old days’.
Actually if bedside skills seem to be lacking, I don’t think it’s because nurses now have degrees rather than just being State Registered. I think it’s far more to do with the intolerable pressure they often have to work under, with poor staffing levels and endless form-filling.

Deedaa Thu 16-Aug-18 21:25:57

If you work in any large retail company you will be bedevilled by "Management Graduates" who will have lovely shiny degrees but no common sense and no idea of what selling to the public actually entails.

DD is a biochemist with a degree in biochemistry and her husband has an engineering degree and teaches engineering. This is the sort of thing you need a degree for.

Jalima1108 Thu 16-Aug-18 21:42:25

If you stick to bio-chemistry then yes, but then some diversify (as I know).

Luckygirl Thu 16-Aug-18 22:06:34

I agree ja that specialist nurses need specialist training, and that nurses work under intolerable pressure.

Deedaa Fri 17-Aug-18 21:18:50

Jalimal I think she would say she has diversified as she rarely gets to do any real science now but spends most of her time on admin and grant proposals, while carrying on a never ending guerilla war with the university's vice principle grin

Jalima1108 Fri 17-Aug-18 21:42:12

I think all my DC have 'diversified'. Or taken additional qualifications to make themselves more 'marketable'!

Richa94 Mon 27-Aug-18 06:40:14

Yes, I agree nowadays there is so much emphasis on qualification, children are forced to get degrees instead of following their interest. I personally recommend children to follow their interest and their desire. A degree doesn't decide your future, it is your interest and skill which will take you to your dreams.

Diana54 Mon 27-Aug-18 07:16:07

It is a fact that 40% of graduates are not doing graduate work, far too many kids of marginal prospects are going to Uni. They would be far better getting a job and going to technical college to learn a skill instead of partying their way to a £50k student loan.
In my experience there are 2 skills lacking in young people, turning up on time and obeying instructions, boys are much worse than girls. They go through school never accepting discipline and having "new experiences" rather than learning in any depth.

I'm not knocking young people in general, the best are much cleverer than our generation, many others learn the hard way they are not a smart as they had been told.

Diana54 Mon 27-Aug-18 07:38:45

I had a close relative in hospital for a month last year, she was in a large ward with 8 bays and 8 beds to a bay, 64 patients if full. Most of the time there was only one qualified nurse supported by "Clinical Assistants" and sometimes student nurses.
At the end of their 12 hour shift they were exhausted, dead on their feet, they only had time for the essentials, how they keep it up I have no idea - a lot don't I'm sure.

sodapop Mon 27-Aug-18 08:42:44

Why do we assume the only qualifications which count are academic ones. There are apprenticeships to qualify plumbers,electricians builders etc. Academia is not the only training ground for young people.