The Emperor of Tertiary Education has no Clothes

Yobbo says what needs to be said about education.

Why should universities do the recruiter's job for them? If your recruiting department is continually hiring people who aren't capable of the job, perhaps it's time to take a look in your own backyard.

Do you test people for skills they will need in the job, or do you take a look at their degree and them give them one of those stupid fucking questionaires that ask things like "Describe a time when you had a problem and solved it." or "Describe what you'd do in a situation if you had a problem with your boss."

Newsflash, morons: People study up on that shit and regurgitate canned answers. There are plenty of people around who will teach a course on how to pass it. It's not much of a secret.

The reality is that most university degrees are an absolute waste of time and money, and that employers have nobody but themselves to blame for that. Twenty years of recruiting based on credentials rather than ability have led to the degree factories that churn out graduates with no skills.

Here's a novel approach that you might like to try out: When recruiting for a position, set the applicant some tasks that reflect some things he or she will actually be doing in the job. You know, like replacing the toner in the printer, or showing the brainless-but-tenured personal assistant how to use the "fill down" feature in Excel. The applicant who does the best at these job-related tasks is going to be the person most suited for the job. Not the one with the most degrees.

The fact is that the emperor of tertiary education has no clothes. Unless you are recruiting an actual accountant or financial analyst, there's nothing you learn in a 3 year business degree that couldn't be better learned on-the-job in 2 weeks.

If you insist on recruiting graduates, then you must be prepared for the fact that they are not going to be any more skilled than your average 17 year old school leaver. The only real difference is that you'll have to pay them more, because they have rather large HECS debts.

The driving force behind all this nonsense is the state financial aid that subsidizes 'education' whether it is useful or not. Of course, no politician would actually suggest that perhaps education should be financed by private entities who evaluate the risk of giving of loan based on the potential for its repayment, which includes the nature of the degree to be acquired itself.

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[i]If you insist on

[i]If you insist on recruiting graduates, then you must be prepared for the fact that they are not going to be any more skilled than your average 17 year old school leaver.[/i]

well now that seems a bit pedantic.

There are, of course,

There are, of course, exceptions. Graduates majoring in the hard sciences and engineering often have vital skills that those without degrees would not.

However, even in the exceptional fields too much is made of credentials, and not just at the recruiting stage. When I worked in software development some years back, one guy I worked with was the best debugger I've ever known by a long, long shot. He had no college degree.

Before too long he got hired away, because our company's idiotic policy wouldn't allow promotion of the non-degreed past a certain point, so his boss simply was not allowed to pay him what the market would bear for his services. One more example of how free competition punishes those who adopt stupid policies, I suppose.

The Wall Street Journal

The Wall Street Journal recently ran a story about how companies are asking recent college graduates for their SAT scores. What does this say about the value of a college degree?

Reminds me of an assertion

Reminds me of an assertion in the Bell Curve: the most reliable measure of a potential employee's utility is an IQ test. The SAT is a decent substitute.

As James O'Connor argued in

As James O'Connor argued in *Fiscal Crisis of the State*, federal aid to higher education is just another way of socializing the costs of big business. Government aid to vocational/technical education, military spending, and government funding of R&D, have together massively distorted the economy toward forms of production that otherwise would not have existed.

One argument that's always

One argument that's always heard in the debate over college athletics is how it's "unfair" that the NFL and NBA get a "free minor league system" via colleges. Nobody, especially in the media, ever thinks to point out that most businesses and industries use colleges for the exact same purpose.

There are, of course,

There are, of course, exceptions. Graduates majoring in the hard sciences and engineering often have vital skills that those without degrees would not.

Emphasis mine. As an engineering professonal who often conducts interviews, I can attest that tertiary education provides the opportunity to acquire useful skills. That opportunity is often missed. Most serious engineering firms, mine included, simply refuse to interview recent graduates.

The reality is that most university degrees are an absolute waste of time and money

Three years in which a focused person can dedicate themselves to study, learning and practice in a specific field are only wasted if one wastes them. A combination of social convention and government subsidy has, in my opinion, turned the college years into a sort of stepping-stone to adulthood. One is free from direct parental supervision and working at classes, but typically not as hard as one will be required to work at later jobs. They are years in which one tends to see a great deal of fuzzy "personal growth" and maturation, and drinking of course.

It seems like a small leap to attribute the waste of these years to a lack of valuation, which I in turn attribute to the all-too-familiar "sense of entitlement" that sets in after years of government handout.