Are parents too stuck on university education?

A close family member spent years studying at university to earn a Masters degree, but three years later he’s still unemployed. Because he did not gain many practical skills from his degree, he’s not equipped to be self-employed. All he can do is to wait for someone to give him a job. My relative is one of the thousands of graduates who are facing unemployment in spite of their prestigious education.

Some parents may wonder: Is sending my teenager to university really worth it? Parents spend a fortune or get into debt in order to get their offspring through university in the hope that their progeny will have a higher chance of being successful. Some parents believe that higher education is the only option for success. Is this a fact?

A few years ago, a research paper from the University of Cape Town stated: ‘Although graduate unemployment remains small relative to overall unemployment, the actual unemployment rate of this group has increased by almost 50% between 1995 and 2005, which makes it the fastest growing unemployment rate among all the education cohorts.’

Some university degrees may leave a student with no defined professional path which may lead graduates to take employment which is not relevant to their studies. In other cases, specialised training in one field may become a disadvantage if technology changes, as a graduate may find out that his/her degree is now irrelevant.

Alternatives to university

But are there alternatives to going to university? Few workers end up in top management jobs. Most of the workers offer the much needed support services. University education is not for everyone.

Some parents may choose to arm their teens with practical skills by enrolling them in technical colleges where they learn such skills as car repairs, computer repair, hair dressing, office skills carpentry and plumbing. These skills are always in demand and can be the basis of a successful small business.

Entering a place of work and doing a learnership may also be a way to improve skills, without attending full-time university. As parents we need to open our minds and encourage our teens to follow what’s right for them.

Read more by Sipho Yanano

Is university education a must for success?

Disclaimer: The views of columnists published on Parent24 are their own and therefore do not necessarily represent the views of Parent24.
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