Monday, October 10, 2016

Is a university worth it? - overview Nigel Latta documentary

Had a look over the weekend at an archived episode of Hard Stuff with Nigel Latta. The episode was on whether a university qualification is worth the costs.

Here are some notes taken while watching the programme:

At 17, students need to make decision that will affect the rest of their life. Are they ready? And have they sufficient information? Many find difficulty in deciding on a pathway. High school subject choice often important. If  the student is on wrong pathway, it can be difficult to switch.

at the moment in NZ, for 18-24 year olds, 20% are unemployed, 28% are working and the rest are in some form of education.

Advantages of attaining a degree is higher salary over life span. Peak salary post-degree will be reached later in life. Unemployment also lower. Better health outcomes and more engaged as a member of society. Based on international research via interview with Prof. Stuart McCutchon from University of Auckland.

Latta compared his own experiences of studying (9 years to obtain degrees / post-grad dip) and current experiences. Unfortunately nowadays, student loans etc. does not allow for students to ‘try things out’. No room for ‘failure’. A financial decision required.

Rory McCourt, former president of the NZ student association articulated current challenges, many of a financial nature. Especially difficult for students from lower socio-economic families.

Phil O-Reilly added market choice from students is good in a way but students have to make the knowledgeable choice. Therefore, information accessible to students crucial. Career’s NZ app. one option.

Dr. Karl Steven provided another perspective on studying towards a higher degree. Dr. Stevens had a successful career as a musician before returning to study. There is a balance between degree with a ‘licence’ to open doors for earning to a journey of learning and becoming more ‘educated’. His experiences enriched by having studied. He did not see education as an investment but something intangible.

What of alternatives to university? Second ½ of programme on other choices.

ITF Josh Williams provided a pitch for trades training, apprenticeships and traineeships. There is a massive need in next 20 years for trades based careers. Highlighted a high school student about to leave school shares Gateway programme – Monday afternoons to learn how to drive forklift. Has opportunity to try out / have a taste, important to provide to students before they make a choice.
Earning while learning promoted with some success stories of post-apprenticeship destinations. How apprenticeships lead on to self-employment, work in high skilled occupations and for many, fulfilment in something they are passionate about.

 Attitude, aptitude, ambition, aspiration and attendance – what employers look for. Personal attributes and qualities gained through life experience. Relevant work experience and ability to be self-direction also important.

Entrepreneurship may not require university education. To be successful, skill and ability to do one thing really, really well.

NEETs, the 20% of 18-24 year olds not in employment, education or training, also discussed near the end of the programme. Focused on work of Foundation programmes working with NEETs to give them a ‘second chance’. Major problem of getting into employment is drug use amongst NEETs. Requires one on one effort to help NEETs get back on track.

Usual discussion on future of work and how ‘entry-level’ jobs are particularly threatened. Need to engage in ‘skilled’ work e.g. in infrastructure not going to disappear in the next decade. There is a need to do a better job of presenting young people with choices – not just on to university but to follow their interests.

 Overall, provides a good overview of 'state of play' and the variety of options available. Would recommend to all parents with children currently in secondary education as parents do play an important role in their childrens' career choices.

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