Holistic education, not vocational

August 27, 2015

Hidden in the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development’s report on graduate jobs is the very questionable statement that choosing an apprenticeship instead of university could be a much better choice (“Too many graduates in non-professional jobs, HR body says”, 19 August).

The whole point of a degree is that it is not a vocational choice but should educate the whole person. That is why so many jobs (including law and medicine) are open to graduates of any discipline.

For students to go to university just to meet the unreliable demands of particular employers, bearing in mind the ups and downs that we have witnessed over the past few years in construction, engineering, science, health and other sectors, is short-sighted and ultimately extremely harmful. In the long term, well-qualified and successful graduates who have lived away from home, mixed socially with others of the same age, gained self-confidence and developed transferable skills in communication, analysis and problem-solving are likely to be well placed to become better managers, leaders and flexible workers than those who have followed a narrow, job-centred training course.

Of course there are not enough “graduate” jobs for 50 per cent of the student population; many young people do not enjoy or gain from a degree course; and we will always have shortages of particular skill sets, but none of these is a reason to encourage appropriate students away from what could be the most rewarding three or four years of their lives.

Jackie Sherman
Author of A Graduate Guide to Job-Hunting in 7 Easy Steps and previously education officer at the Confederation of British Industry and university careers adviser

You've reached your article limit

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 3 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Most Commented

Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford will host a homeopathy conference next month

Charity says Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford is ‘naive’ to hire out its premises for event

women leapfrog. Vintage

Robert MacIntosh and Kevin O’Gorman offer advice on climbing the career ladder

Woman pulling blind down over an eye
Liz Morrish reflects on why she chose to tackle the failings of the neoliberal academy from the outside
White cliffs of Dover

From Australia to Singapore, David Matthews and John Elmes weigh the pros and cons of likely destinations

Michael Parkin illustration (9 March 2017)

Cramming study into the shortest possible time will impoverish the student experience and drive an even greater wedge between research-enabled permanent staff and the growing underclass of flexible teaching staff, says Tom Cutterham