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

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