Educate for a Vocation and Reality

There are many problems that can actually be caused by encouraging too many young people into education.  It’s not to say that education is in any way bad, but it has to be realistic and appropriate to economic demands.   For example producing tens of thousands of highly qualified and specialized archaeologists is never going to be a great idea – simply because of supply and demand.

There’s a limited requirement for people to work in archaeology for obvious reasons,  the vast majority will work in the academic world.  It’s probably a fascinating and interesting degree, yet is it smart to train thousands of young people in a vocation that they’ll simply never find work in.  I choose the example as I happen to know a few graduates in archaeology, who never got even remotely near finding a job which related to their qualifications.


Obviously you can argue that a degree is of value whatever the subject, it teaches all sorts of other skills.  Yet how can it be smart to ignore real shortages in an economy whilst producing a huge skills surplus in others?  The issue is that many, many students find themselves working in areas that they are completely over qualified in because they were unable to find work in their chosen area.

It’s a real problem in the UK, with the Association of Graduate recruiters reporting that 87% of employers failed to fill all their positions in 2014 because they couldn’t find enough candidates with the right skills.  After all if you’re looking to recruit for a medical research center you want science graduates not humanity students.

Employers often suggest that the problem is more fundamental than just choosing the right subject to study.  Poor interview skills, badly written CVs and application forms suggest that many students simply don’t have the right skills to find any type of job.  With economic growth starting to return to most European countries, the problem is likely to grow particularly if our ‘academic focused’ education system doesn’t start to provide a few more vocational skills.

After all any sort of graduate needs certain basic skills in virtually any job.  Most graduates would need basic computer skills for example wherever they work, they may not need to know how to set up or buy VPN services, but they should be able to use simple office applications competently.

Technology is not the only area, but it’s often one that’s overlooked, students are often experts in browsing, using smart phones and configuring their iPads, yet have no experience of spreadsheets, word processors or presentation software beyond what they learnt at primary and early in secondary education.