Friday, December 5, 2008

Low-Waged, High-Skilled Economy

Only yesterday I was reflecting upon the pointlessness of degrees and today I saw this article in the Times Higher Education essentially proclaiming that university education’s return on investment is very small. I won’t go into great detail, not because I am cagey about it but because analysing the financial aspect of my own educational path is the stuff of hair-raising nightmares, especially when the opposite end of the scales currently shows a salary of exactly zero pounds per year.

But it’s not just me you know? I don’t understand why the THE went to ask some expert about the graduate situation because if they had only asked me, or any of my friends, we could have made one hundred first-hand examples of graduates that live in poverty or next to it. For argument’s sake, I’ll only make five examples.

My friend Paula (class of 1998) is a receptionist and earns a pittance; Jane (also class of 1998) is a teacher who also earns a pittance while dealing with brats (if that isn’t enough to slit one’s wrists, I don’t know what is); Alex (class of 1999) works as an office admin, something that anyone who ever used a computer for any purpose can do, spelling and grammar are entirely optional; Charlotte (class of 1999) is a PA who could have saved herself £ 25,000 if only she had gone into PA at 15 instead of ten years later, after a BA and an MA, while John still has to finish paying his student debt 12 years after graduating. Do you know what this means? It means that he is earning less than £ 2,100 a month, the threashold whereby student loans have to be re-paid to the company that supplied them. John is 34. He makes little more than a supermarket shelf-stacker but spent £ 20,000 to get there. Shame that there is really nowhere.

I’ll stop here with the examples because I don’t want to depress myself, or indeed others, any further. I still have a stinking cold and I don’t want to add weeping hysterics to my poorly nose. Thanks to the THE for talking about something that all graduates three years after graduation realise with the proverbial sinking feeling in their hearts. Wonder what took them so long?
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