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University or Training

Andrew Badham 2016-06-14 14:28:50

Education has been in the spotlight for a while know, and justly so. The cliché, "knowledge is power" is true, but only if you know how to apply that knowledge. But, it seems that even just attaining knowledge can be difficult. So many people are pushed towards universities, but are they the only option? Is there a better option.


Finish school, go to university, get a job. That is the journey that many an aspirant individual has been directed to: education with a career in mind. Education and work are an effective couple. It's far easier to do job a well if you already know what to do. Only, we've started to believe that a tertiary education is the only way to have a job that isn't street sweeping or worse. Degrees have become a must have for every person who would like to have an even remotely respectable income. This notion has only been fueled by the fact that some companies have degree requirements as a prerequisite to application. As a result, the youth have demanded easier access to universities. Apart from a few countries such as Germany, Sweden and Norway, access to universities has remained limited. So, the perception that access to education has been limited as well has spread. This is not true.


Universities were never designed for the working man. The prestigious Oxford university was founded more than six hundred years before the industrial revolution. Universities were meant for the elite. The only professions they were likely to go into were theology, law and medicine; hardly a fraction of the work spectrum. It's only over time that these institutions have entertained more practical curricula. Even so, most graduates find themselves entering the job market devoid of any applicable skills. The knowledge that they gained in university was far more academic than applicable. A university is comprised of academics and so it produces academics, not workers. There is nothing wrong with that, the world needs research and debate, but that will require a select few people. Most people who enter university do so with a career in mind, and not often is that career in academia. But, our future workers still need to be educated.


In this modern era our access to education sits at an unparalleled level and is only increasing. Anyone with access to the internet (which is far cheaper than university fees) can access millions of resources on every topic known to man instantly. There are so many skills a person can learn by themselves if they are willing and motivated to do so. The only problem is, who will recognise those skills? Who will bother to see if you are competent despite your lack of a certificate? Well, companies like Ernst and Young. The accounting firm announced in mid 2015 that it would no longer require degrees for applicants as it was not necessarily an indication of workplace success. They are not alone. Far more companies are interested in whether or not someone can do the job as opposed to write a thesis on the job.


Still, not everyone is skilled in self study. Learning from a laptop or textbook can be hard. Classrooms can make this a lot easier, which of course is in a university's favor. Only, the classes are lectures and sometimes contain hundreds of students. The professors are not selected for their ability to teach but rather their academic record. Essentially the environment becomes unconducive to learning. Even here there is hope. There are many institutions which offer short courses intended to impart skills without the burden of academics. More practicality in less time. Even technical colleges spend years teaching the background of a subject before getting to the applicable content. Not so in a training institution. In the space of a week you can learn to build a basic website, or manage a project from people with industry experience.

Getting an education, learning skills is easier than ever. What needs to change is our perception that a degree is worth more than skills