A trade is a safer route to prosperity these days

I didn’t encourage either of our children to get a University education like I have. At the moment it looks like we may end up with a butcher and a driving instructor in the family and I believe that those two “trades” will set them up better than many of their contemporaries at University.

As a Butcher our daughter will have no student loan to pay back and while she trains she will be paid for her work. She will then have the option of being self-employed or working for someone else.

As a Driving instructor our son will earn around $60 an hour for an initial investment of around $8000 worth of training. His contemporaries at University the same year he starts earning $60 an hour will be job hunting with a student loan of $30,000 plus hanging over their heads.

[…] This week Auckland University of Technology is celebrating 4500 new graduates at a time that has seen a lot of media interest in the value of getting a university degree. We’ve read open letters from employers saying you don’t need a degree to get a job. And research from an industry training organisation saying that you can do as well with a trade as a degree, and maybe better.

Of course, you can, particularly if you learn on the job while getting paid.

I think the point that is missed in all this is that most people don’t wish to, or attempt to, go to university, and that is as it should be. University isn’t for everyone. Twice as many young people don’t go to university as go. So the idea that you don’t need to go to university to get a job is really just stating what is obviously the case, rather than a startling new insight.

The point is that University is still seen by many as the best route to highly paid employment guaranteeing that you have skills that are in demand. The reality is that unless you get a degree with a specific career in mind ie teacher, lawyer, doctor, accountant etc you are more likely to end up unemployed with a huge student loan at the end of it.

Furthermore, the employers preaching this gospel are doing so in a buoyant employment market at a time that it is hard for them to find employees. They need employees right now, not after they’ve spent three or four years getting a degree, and it might be in their interests for more people to seek employment in certain types of work, rather than going on to years of study.

Well duh! The whole point of further education was to create workers of one kind or another. The idea that University is no longer solely about churning out future employees or business owners is the problem. Women’s studies and Gender studies graduates tend to make surly waiters and waitresses or sit angrily on the dole upset that their ” qualifications” are not recognised.

However, society needs graduates and encouraging young people to rule out university is short-sighted. Nurses, dentists, doctors, health professionals of all kinds, analysts, accountants, engineers, technologists, designers, teachers, social workers, scientists, lawyers amongst many others need the education they get at university and the qualification they end up with in order to practise their profession.

As well, many other professions and enterprises benefit from a university education even if a degree is not a basic requirement for a position in them. We all need the supply line of graduates to continue.

What about value for money? Where is the cost-benefit analysis? Why should I take on debt and not earn money for years in order for a company to hire me at the end of it all simply because they think that a degree shows that I am clever? I might as well have been working my way up the company ladder starting at the bottom years earlier while earning money and gaining valuable work experience or building my own business from scratch.

[…] Society needs plumbers, electricians, carpenters and builders, butchers, hairdressers among many others. […] At the moment we don’t seem to have enough in some trades. So they are being promoted.

A sensible person will train in an area where there is demand. Now is a good time to train to be a Primary school teacher but when I hit the job market more than twenty years ago there were too many High school teachers and not enough jobs to go around.

[…] Overall, however, the statistics show that on average a graduate does better over a career lifetime, than someone with no or lesser educational qualifications – better in employment, income, health and life expectancy. […]

It is easier to get out of the rat race and create passive income if you have low expenses and zero debt. In my experience graduates going into well-paid careers after years as poor students often rapidly get into debt with large mortgages, new furniture and overseas holidays. It is quite possible for someone earning a lot less but with little to no debt to get ahead and to create passive income. High income means little if you also have high debt.

-NZ Herald


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