The world of education and work has changed so much in the last few decades. When I was leaving school in the mid-Eighties options were quite limited. Most people went directly to an apprenticeship or an entry-level job. They may have attended a day release course at the local college along with their job. Jobs like a hairdresser, joiner or car mechanic were the norm. Some people did go to university but back then it was much more unusual, it was the exception rather than the norm. If you did go to university it was either for a vocational course like medicine or you were just posh!
The chart below shows the number of young people aged 18 to 24 in full-time education, From 1992 to 2016.
As you can see during this time almost double the number of young people started to go on to further education. The introduction of student loans meant young people were studying for longer and takin up more varied courses. Everyone that had the qualifications was pushed to go to university and anything else was looked down on.
In the last few years though there seems to be a change in the air. People are starting to question the value of a degree at university. Do we all want to be saddled with debt for the rest of our lives? Is a degree in Art History or Anthropology and Archaeology really going to get us a job? There is also an increasing interest in jobs and careers that offer more flexibility, people want to work for themselves and develop a range of skills. They also want to be able to take a career break or share child care with a spouse.
Once you have finished school or university your education doesn’t finish. There are no more “jobs for life” in the current workplace – well maybe excepting teachers or doctors however these traditional career paths are becoming less popular these they come under pressure on budgets and expectations. Career development is now a buzzword, we need to be constantly increasing our skills and making ourselves more marketable.
With the development of the internet, the ways you can study has increased dramatically. You can now take on a course online in your own time to further your career. A good friend of mine has recently retrained as a bookkeeper and is now working towards an accountancy qualification. There are many varied providers who offer further training courses for individuals wanting to study accounting and finance. A good example is Kaplan accountancy courses who offer a range of courses and apprenticeships.
Interestingly apprenticeships are on the rise again, and there are plenty of other ways to learn instead of studying at university. My daughter is currently starting to think about her career choices and it is almost overwhelming. There are so many more options than there used to be. My advice to her is that the choice she makes at school does not have to be forever. The destination after school can change and she should think of it as a learning journey.