Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Degrees of Denigration

Its becoming more and more obvious that degrees aren't what they used to be. BT is stopping its graduate induction and I dare say there are many other companies around the country that are doing the same.

The government are inducting large numbers of graduates into the civil service, in order to avoid embarrasing postgraduate unemployment figures. I've seen them twiddling their thumbs in the local jobcentre two to a desk, insulting those unemployed by surfing the net in plain sight, emailing colleagues about trivial matters and discussing it within earshot of claimants, or getting simple (but important for the claimant) things wrong.

At the same time, it seems a degree is a de-rigeur qualification to get any half-decent job these days. Jobs that would have been filled by the vocational ONC/HND streams are now being filled by graduates. I just saw a service engineer's job advertised that had a degree as a mandatory requirement.

It does make me wonder, what has happened to the vocational and academic streams that used to exists and worked so well for decades? All that they are being replaced with is some mish-mash where everyone has to have a degree or they don't stand a chance of a half-decent job.

Degrees have become cheapened.

So what actually is replacing the postgraduate degree as the requirement for what used to be a post for graduates? A masters degree? A PHD? How long do you have to spend in acedemia to get decent qualifications. More importantly, what sort of expense would you have to rack up in order to attain that level of education? Who could afford it? Would a kid from a lower class family ever consider such an expensive path? If thats the case, isn't this the age old class divide that Labour promised to abolish writ large and still going strong?

Things never really change, do they?


  1. Del, degrees have become cheapened for many years now. Think about it. Back in the 50s only the wealthy attended Uni and very occasionally an exceptionally bright pupil managed one of the few scholarships around. Wasn't a good time for further education.

    Then here in Scotland they brought in grants and that allowed many more to go to Uni. The wealthy continued to go of course but then much of the time they 'studied' the arts or something which wouldn't tax their intaxable minds. This is what educationalists jumped on - money to be made from those of average intelligence!

    So enter the comprehensive school where it would be much harder to show the excellent, good and poor as it would teach to the lowest common denominator. Oh don't forget those who needed one to one support, bring them into mainstream and hold back the others too while we're at it. That saves on schools which help the less able, more £££ saved for more quangos.

    Not content with the start of dumbed down schooling they start on colleges and ask them if they want to become universities. They're bribed by money and jump at the chance. Wow, doesn't university sound a lot better than college? Oh indeed.

    So, we lose some truly excellent colleges which produce superb technical qualifications and now they have to provide other subjects too so their excellence in the technical, vocational side begins to slide. Never mind, what does quality mean over quantity. It's quantity that fills the finance accounts.

    I could go on but I'm sure you get the picture.

  2. As someone who does not have a degree, I have lost count of those graduates that have been given to me for training that could not find their arse with both hands.

    One was so terrible, I acutally took the step of going to HR and telling them he was not suited for banking or IT, but was told he was on the Graduate recruitment program and a) We would have pay him off to get rid of him, and b) Most importantly it would mean that HR had made a mistake and they could not admit that.

    I was transferred to Frankfurt soon after that

  3. The transformation of education mentioned by Subrosa into the mess we have now really annoys me. I still fail to see what the problem was with grammar schools: they provided a stream for the more gifted kids regardless of background. The same goes for polytechnics: they provided an alternative stream to the universities.

    It seems to me in the homogenisation into the "one size fits all" education system we have now, we've lost a lot of options for kids to be empowered and drag themselves up from their roots. In an age where "the market", "choice" and "competition" are glorified in business, it seems we've gone in entirely the opposite direction with education.

    And no, I never went to grammar school, nor university. I went the vocational route.

    The really important thing is to provide the means for intelligent kids to work to the best of their abilities. The current system doesn't allow that.

    I did a few months work in Frankfurt managing installation of kit for Commerzbank. That was one of my my last IT roles. Nice quaint old bit of the city, but the rest seemed dreary and dull.


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