As we continue our look at education, there is one point which my co-author made to me I want to raise for discussion here. Here pointed out that in the UK a decision was taken, quite deliberately, to, as an act of Government policy, try to get nearly half the young people in this country to go to University. The reasoning here was not overly sophisticated. If University education was good for the few, then from the democratic view, it must be good for the many. I would like to suggest that it is this sort of egalitarianism which threatens to undermine the achievements of more than a century.
When my co-author on my blog went to University in the UK in the early 1970s he was one of about 8% of the population who did so. That did not mean that the rest of the population was under-educated. Then, if you wanted to be a lawyer or an accountant, then you could, and often did, take professional courses whilst training on the job; the same was true for other jobs, such as nursing and engineering. Now, in the UK, you need a degree to get into nursing. Does that mean that our nurses here are better? Not if recent reports to the effect that they need to take courses on ‘caring’ are anything to go by. My sister, who trained as a nurse in the late 1970s, did so without a degree (though she got one later), and her account chimes with others I hear now – that modern nurses may have degrees, but they are not necessarily any better than they should be at actually caring; indeed, there is evidence that they think it beneath them to empty bed pans and clean up patients. Progress does not equal better.
An emphasis on higher education, skews what happens before that. One of the things which puzzles UK politicians is that though many new jobs have been created, unemployment figures remain high. Part of the answer is that social security provision in the UK is generous, and those eligible for it sometimes find it better not to get into work – and that work is then done by immigrants who will work longer hours for lower pay. Another part of the answer is that too many kids in our schools have the wrong skill-set. Kids told that they ought to be setting their eyes on University won’t think that they want to pick up a trade – yet electricians and plumbers here are rare enough to command premium prices for their services – provided they can sign up to the slew of red-tape which the Government insists upon in the sacred name of Health and Safety.
So, you end up with plenty of chiefs, but not a lot of Indians; lots of managers, but not too many to manage. You also end up with a real dearth of skilled labour. Not everyone can be a manager, or a computer entrepreneur, and there is, it seems, such a thing as being educated out of usefulness. Perhaps that is controversial – but it is a view gaining ground in the UK.
Authored By nebraskaenergyobserver