Thursday, February 03, 2011

College Isn’t For Everybody

From Bloomberg (bold emphasis mine)

The U.S. is focusing too much attention on helping students pursue four-year college degrees, when two-year and occupational programs may better prepare them for the job market, a Harvard University report said.

The “college for all” movement has produced only incremental gains as other nations leapfrog the United States, and the country is failing to prepare millions of young people to become employable adults, said the authors of the Pathways to Prosperity Project, based at the Harvard Graduate School of Education in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Most of the 47 million jobs to be created by 2018 will require some postsecondary education, the report said. Educators should offer young people two-year degrees and apprenticeships to achieve career success, and do more to ensure that students who begin such programs complete them, said Robert Schwartz, academic dean at Harvard’s education school, who heads the Pathways project.

Here in the Philippines, we share the same phenomenon.

The following charts from


College graduates constitute about 2/5 of Philippine unemployment!


13% of emigrants have been college graduates.

Both of the above represents fundamental evidences why “education is a right” fails.

More comments

-Education does not guarantee employment.

-Employment depends on Profits or the Rate of Returns on Investment, which is determined by many factors (mostly by the varying degree of government restrictions)

-Mass production of college graduates which doesn’t conform to the market’s demand (mismatching) leads to unemployment.

-Growing trade specialization patterns requires increasing skills specialization.

This also means tradition educational platforms will shift: where learning will occur from the unorthodox platforms (such as web based education) than from typical classrooms.

And because of this compulsory, learning will likely become shorter and not longer (as the Bloomberg article above shows) and this is why proposals impose regulations to extend years of education runs contradictory to the direction of the present trends and reeks of vested interests.

Education, writes futurist Alvin Toffler, will become more interspersed and interwoven with work and spread over the lifetime.

And this means trends towards learning through apprenticeship.

As Charles Murray of the American Enterprise Institute writes in a 2008 Wall Street Journal OpEd, (bold highlights mine)

Here's the reality: Everyone in every occupation starts as an apprentice. Those who are good enough become journeymen. The best become master craftsmen. This is as true of business executives and history professors as of chefs and welders. Getting rid of the BA and replacing it with evidence of competence -- treating post-secondary education as apprenticeships for everyone -- is one way to help us to recognize that common bond.

-Public funds spent for education that ends up in the unemployment statistics account for as enormous waste. Think 40% of unemployed, many of which comes from Public schools.

Further, the same unemployed will likely consume ‘safety nets’ which further bloats fiscal budgets. This should add to the lack of competitiveness which undermines investment and increases unemployment--thus a vicious cycle.

In short, the popular illusion that education automatically leads to jobs has been exposed. The welfare state fails.

-Even in the indoctrination to uphold state’s supremacy over the individual, technology has been eroding this, as information acquisition becomes increasingly decentralized.

-With lack of investment opportunities and the subsequent job opportunities, restrictions on migrations should be eased, if not lifted. This gives the people opportunity to learn and work where they think would best serve them or make them productive.

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