Mary Curnock Cook has suggested that middle class parents and universities have become “too fixated” with using their degrees to get a job. Whilst there is no arguing that, for those young people who choose the university route, they should be encouraged to study subjects that most engage them, in this age of significant financial implications of higher education, university study choices should always be made with future career aspirations and objectives in mind; future career aspirations should not be the only factor to consider, but should be high up the list.
It is far too simplistic to say that young people and their parents shouldn’t panic if the young person has not secured a well paid, graduate job within 6 months of leaving university. For sure, most Millennials will have a much more varied career path than their forebears and they have a long time ahead of them during which they can explore various roles and industry sectors, until they find a longer term career path of their choosing. However, given the cost and debt implications of university study, there are many, many families in this country for which years of floating in and out of poorly paid roles, combined with little or no career development prospects will prove to be very burdensome, especially given the lack of any guarantee of a significant long term career upside to benefit from.
The opportunity to study at university, with all of the once-in-a-lifetime-growing-up experiences that university life offers is, for many young people, a wonderful and enriching experience. However, given the current funding system, combined with a job market that is asking the education sector to plug skills shortages gaps, not provide non-vocational degrees, it is unfair on young people and their families to not advise and encourage them to factor in, amongst other things, the relevance and usefulness of their chosen degree course in the context of future career aspirations. To do so could be described as an act of selfish irresponsibility on the part of those organisations that are HE-related.