Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Yet Another Oxymoron: Government Education

Factories of Irrelevance

We are going to see headlines like this more and more:  "Americans Losing Faith in College Degrees".  Eventually we are going to see similar sentiments in New Zealand.
A poll published on Thursday by the Wall Street Journal reveals that Americans are losing faith in college degrees.  According to the Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll, only 49 percent of Americans now believe that a four-year degree will lead to a good job and higher lifetime earnings. An overwhelming 47 percent claimed that they don’t believe a four-year degree will increase job and earnings prospects. 
Americans are increasingly concerned about the rising costs of an education. Student debt totals have reached $1.3 trillion, and millions have fallen behind on student-loan payments.
The findings reflect an increase in public skepticism of higher education from just four years ago and highlight a growing divide in opinion falling along gender, educational, regional and partisan lines. They also carry political implications for universities, already under public pressure to rein in their costs and adjust curricula after decades of sharp tuition increases.  [Breitbart]
 The NZ Labour Party has promised that, upon being elected, it will pay for three years of tertiary fees.  It is a policy which cannot be sustained.
  It will go a long way to destroying the tertiary education sector.  The old adage says "you get more of what you pay for".  Tertiary education courses and education providers will explode in number and radically decline in quality.  We have seen it before.

We will see graduates unable to find jobs that match their artificially high expectations.  They will end up on the dole--probably for much of their lifetimes.  They will have been educated to irrelevance--holding a make-believe-qualification paid for by everyone else's taxes.  They will find that nobody wants to employ "hospitality industry" graduates when thousands apply for the relatively few jobs going.

But the current system cannot be sustained either.  The reality is that our economy, like most, needs large numbers of technically qualified and trained staff that know how to use a spirit-level.  Meanwhile our tertiary sector is focused upon the IT industries as the way of the future.  Skilled bulldozer or digger operators, plumbers, construction workers, and electricians  just don't cut it. Such skilled labour is in short supply.  So, like the United States, our current system delivers graduates with irrelevant qualifications and mountains of debt.
“I have friends from high school that are making half what I’m making, and they went and got a four-year degree or better, and they’re still $50-, $60-, $70,000 dollars in debt,” 32-year-old Jeff McKenna said, who passed on college in favor of trade school. He earns $50,000 a year as a mechanic. “There’s a huge need for skilled labor in his country.”
In any growing Western economy, "tradies" rule.   Government run education systems never get it.  They are focused upon creating an educated elite that end up being no earthly use to anyone.  But it appeals to the vanity of politicians and bureaucrats and the education industries.  That's what happens when smug know-it-all idiots decide what qualifications are required by the economy, rather than the bottom-up, real demand of the market itself.

Grandiose central planning never worked in the Soviet Union.  For some reason pollies and their advisers have never got that particular memo.  Or perhaps they are graduates of our wunnerful education system and, like thousands, they don't know how to read it.

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