When I was much younger, and still in school, there was a lot of pressure put on me to perform so that I could make it into a decent university once I was done. It was generally assumed back then, that by simply holding a degree you would get your pick of the best jobs, while simply finishing matric would get you a selection of good ones. That may be how things were when I was growing up, or I may have been wrong. Either way, when I finally completed my bachelor of arts degree, I entered the wide world with my head held high and saw… nothing. Not a job. Just me and an entire generation of art students talking about films and looking for a way to make money.
So, what exactly happened to the value of my degree? Why didn’t I get snatched up after walking out of the university, still wearing my gown? And why on earth does the guy who cuts my lawn have a matric certificate with better results than my own? Something, I realised, was very wrong.
So what happened?
In my opinion, my generation represents a sect that was told the exact same thing. Get a degree, it doesn’t matter in what, and you’ll make loads of money someday. So, we all became literature students, art students, philosophers and readers; all the while not thinking about whether we would actually use our learned knowledge or not.
Yet, while the bachelor of arts faculties filled up with drifters, all their relevant fields became saturated in less time than it takes to graduate. Of course, this wasn’t happening in the engineering, law and medical fields. Such faculties have stringent prerequisites which always keep the demand and value of the degree high.
And in the meantime, a demand for skilled tradesmen (and women) was raising and not being adequately met; thanks to the virtue associated with going to a university and getting a degree.
The raise in this demand led to a higher value being associated with trades, resulting in an increase in the cost of training courses, while lowering the income of apprentices, making it difficult for those facing socio-economic development challenges to take advantage of these courses.
So, how should you further yourself?
Deciding on what direction your life will take through educating yourself is not an easy decision to make. You need to think about the viability and job availability in your chosen field. You need to have an interest in what you are doing, and you need to be able to see the value in it too. If you feel like a trade would suit you better than a degree, or would like to further your skills but need assistance with the funding to do so, visit the Tiso Skills Fund website for more details on securing a better future through training.