Does A Degree Prepare You For Work?Posted: 9th of June 2015 by
Education is a great thing, it expands the mind and opens up opportunity, but does it really prepare us for the workplace? Unless that workplace is also within education, chances are, it doesn’t. Education, whether schooling, sixth form, or even up to graduate level, does provide plenty of great things – from teaching us communication skills to organisation – but there still seems to be a gap between education and the workplace. So what can be done?
There is nothing like experience to prepare you for something, and so work experience is important in helping prepare school or college leavers for the workplace. It can show how your studies are used in the real world of employment, where being punctual and hard-working are at least as important as academic skills.
When it comes to taking a degree, some courses are better than others. The more focused the study, the more likely it is to prepare you for work. So, studying veterinary surgery, for example, is likely to be better preparation for the workplace than a more generic degree, such as English Literature.
With more employers asking for work experience as well as qualifications, and some even saying they don’t intend to employ any graduates at all, this all seems to point to the power of the vocational route into employment. It also seems to hint at the lessening power of academic qualifications in the modern marketplace and preparing us for work.
Apprenticeships offer on-the-job training and a higher chance of finding a relevant job once you are qualified than a degree does. Statistics have shown that apprentices earn more money, on average, than graduates in their first jobs. This also seems to point to a change in perspective, with a few high-level ‘graduate jobs’ going to a small number of graduates in an increasingly crowded and competitive graduate job market, while the rest are left to find lower-paid positions. Elsewhere, apprentices offer employers an appealing combination of both skills and experience.
The question is, can you improve your work preparation even if you take a degree?
Some career choices may require you to go to university. While these are becoming fewer as more vocational routes open up, you can improve your employability and preparation by doing some relevant work experience. This is not always as easy as it seems but can prove invaluable.
It is also worth having a real idea of what job you want to do. It will help you focus your efforts and find that relevant work experience. If you can’t decide, opting for something that offers a broad range of skills is your best bet.
While it may seem that you have a long time until you need to think about work, it is worth getting prepared as soon as possible. Three years at university are not long and you don’t want to leave in debt and still without an idea or any experience in your chosen career. If you can’t or don’t want to take the vocational route into your career, be sure to get yourself some work experience to offer you an insight into the world of work.
It might just help you stand out in a competitive job market.
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