Are YOU Stifling Your Own Career? No 3 – The Lure of Qualifications

Are YOU Stifling Your Own Career? No 3 - The Lure of Qualifications

From the day of your birth you have been nurtured, cared for and steered by others in the direction that will hopefully meet the challenge of a preparation for life and self-responsibility. Your parents and the education system have been the main parties in this endeavour. And a large part of their goal must have been to prepare you for the work-place. So… what to do?


If we go back 50 years when less than 5% of kids went to University, the impact of further education was far greater than today. A degree was regarded as a passport to a career and meant, almost without exception, that you would never be unemployed. You would be placed on a pedestal by employers, given the opportunities in the work-place to which others were not entitled and thus your place in more senior positions was, with a little effort and training, assured.

Compare that with today, when upwards of 40% of students go on to a form of further education (FE). The odds of you making waves in a career on the back of a degree (for the graduate of any University or College) are dropping like a stone. The numbers are simply against it. Soon it will be the exception rather than the rule not to have a degree.

The passport, then, is no longer  why bother? struggle through a course, the examination system, the stress and the strain of further education?

The answers to this most important and vexing of questions is found in a blunt and self-effacing scrutiny of exactly the purpose of further education for you personally. Let’s examine the mains possible reasons:-

a) Any degree is still a “bottle-top” that half of the competition won’t possess. It’s discipline for the mind.

b) I just love the subject and want to go into the academic world thereafter.

c) It gives me time to research and think about what I want to do for a career.

d) It’s a means to an  chosen career requires a degree in anything just to get to the bottom of the ladder.

e) I’m swept along by a tide of advice from peers, teachers and parents pointing me in that direction…I guess it must be for the best.

f) The employment markets are very dull in a recession and I won’t find a job right now.

Railed against this are the following that are deserving of similar scrutiny:-

a) Surely I can make more progress in a real world job actually learning work-relevant lessons and skills that are in demand by employers. Proof of intelligence is no longer evidenced through a degree, anyway.

b) Further education is, essentially, a growing-up process that I can do better without excessive socializing and especially drinking.

c) I want to earn money right away rather than wait for three/four years of penury.

d) I just don’t have the assets and am not prepared to run up big debts in loans. It’s no way to start a career unless it’s a genuine investment.

e) Study is all well and good but I hate it and shouldn’t do any more if it doesn’t further my life/work skills.

f) F.E. will do nothing much for my life-skills which are surely more important than most subjects.

Of course there are other factors but these include the main considerations. Once these have been evaluated for you personally it will pay, before you conclude, to think about, mull over and discuss with others who’s opinions you respect ( not necessarily parents, teachers and friends who all have a vested interest in you!) these other factors that may help you decide in which direction to go:-

A) For the remaining seventy-odd years of your life you will live with the consequences, good, bad or ugly of the decision. At work and socially and even in your private moments you will remember what you did during those first few post-school years.

B) If you regard your F.E. as preparation for working life/career then it will pay to make a serious comparison between the projected value of your degree subject in the market-place versus three years of solid progress in a chosen field… even if both turn out to be false starts.

C) A degree for its’ own sake, unless you really enjoy the course, will be a struggle and won’t, in many, many instances relate to or even underpin your career.

D) In three or four years there is a great deal you can do in the way of other courses and skills training that will put you way ahead of graduates when they finally throw away their mortar-boards.

E) If you choose the University route then it is a dead certainty that if the subject relates directly to your subsequent occupation then it will advance your personal cause considerably….e.g. nursing, engineering, law, foreign languages, computing.

F) The acid test must always be to ask how the decision will help you in your career. If the answer is “not at all” then you are likely to be achieving very little.

G) A top degree in underwater knitting is unlikely to impress many potential employers. Only one thing impresses ‘s performance at work.

I) The route you take is only the beginning of a constant learning process in a changing world.

Whatever you choose to do, do it with passion, enthusiasm and positive action and remember the words of the late Jim Rohn…