Comments for en-gb 30 Wed 22 Apr 2015 04:11:54 GMT+1 A feed of user comments from the page found at KeithRodgers I have to say I agree with the point made in comment 5.What we have now is a lot of people with degree qualifications that are in "totally irrelevant subjects that are very easy to pass courses".They move out of university take key positions in industry with very little experience of that industry, and to be truthful they are basically not ready for the role in terms of experience.Then you have very experienced and very seasoned people covering there butts and reporting into them, which creates a tense atmosphere.What follows then is one of two things a)the more experienced guys then leave the business, b) the graduates clear them all out.Which creates a situation where you have a bunch of very green "inexperienced people"running the business and they drop huge clangers.Motives for clearing the old guys out , well usual excuses a) cannot learn new skills (ageism), b) the older guys will challenge there thinking and shoot holes in the decisions they make, c)also using graduates appears cheaper,The interesting bit is Germany where you have a very successful economy because 90% of the businesses are run by people who have worked there way up off the shop floor. Thats why they are very successful in the manufacturing sector. And I may add only 25% of them have degrees, so we are focusing on the wrong types of education. Thu 17 Mar 2011 04:24:49 GMT+1 Eamon Sloan An army of sociologists are going to take over the world! P.S when you said simple graph you sure weren't kidding.# 54 Space travel solves all hydrocarbon problems, look for titan, moon of saturn. Rock on Physics! Of course by that point oil will be kinda redundant as energy but still used for plastics.On a different note is anyone else getting tired of that "three female graduate photo"? Must've seen it a hundred times by now. Thu 10 Mar 2011 22:32:50 GMT+1 DrMike I think a few things need to be considered in this debate. Firstly, as many others have said, just graduating with a degree does not equate to intelligence. I'm sure many people would agree that there are too many courses out there that are simply too easy, and designed to ensure that students do not fail. I know many people with undergraduate and graduate degrees that suffer from a lack of native intelligence, or common sense if you prefer.Secondly, what is the point in simply churning out graduates if there is no employment for them to graduate into? There needs to be tighter coupling between what the economy needs and what universities produce, both in terms of subject studied and the number of graduates. Having an educated but unemployed workforce is a luxury very few countries can afford.Finally, and in my opinion most importantly, graduates need to make use of one of the biggest diferences between graduates in the Uk and many other copuntries: the age at which they graduate. In the UK, due to an excellent systems of O-levels and A-levels, new university students in my day were younger than their counterparts in say America and Canada, and more focussed. In many countries, University 101 is the equivalent of the last year of A-level study (and in fact sometims not even at that level). The result? Students in the UK were already usually focussed on a particular area of study, and did not require a year to make up their minds what they wanted to study. This means shorter, more focussed degree courses. In turn this leads to a younger age at graduate school. A more focussed undergrad degree also led to a more focussed graduate degree, with no course work and completion in a shorter time frame (3 years compared to 5 years of more). So a graduate obtaining a PhD in the UK is usually 3-5 years younger than someone in North America or most of Europe. Thu 10 Mar 2011 22:25:21 GMT+1 crash #54Yes #54 you are right the free market is the root of all evil,just look at the success of the USSR and how much better off those people were ! Thu 10 Mar 2011 11:08:20 GMT+1 coplani Stating the obvious…A blade of grass is the same as any other blade od grass.Similarly looking at a herd of horses, one would think that they are all the same with slight minor difference.Now looking at the human population, one could say that we are all born equal and the grey matter is not all that different. Of course there are differences at the extremeties, but basically we are all born equal.So what makes the difference as we grow older…Obviously the child is conditioned by it’s parents and it’s education.Give any child a decent upbringing and good education, and there will be a great adult.However what sort of person will be required in the 21st. Century.?Looking back in time, it would appear that prior to WW2, what was required was great leaders. It was a case of survival of the fittest, when you consider that wars between nations (or Clans) were common and to get an army motivated, you needed great leadership. Empire building was the name of the game and this had been going on for centuries…i.e. wars. Great Britain was particularly good at this and along with the industrial revolution a great empire grew.However things changed after WW2 with the invention of a new weapon called the ATOMIC BOMB. A new term entered the dictionary….MAD or Mutual Assured Destruction. So the situation in the world changed forever…No more major wars with horrendous casualities. The risks were far too great.Since WW2 we have indeed lived through blessed times and until recently things were going quite well due to great advances in SCIENCE and TECHNOLOGY .However since the 80’s there has been a dangerous misconception creeping in and that is that the FREE MARKET and ENTERPRISE is the answer to all our woes…That this is the way forward….I believe that this is a dangerous misconception for the following reason…If you take for example SATELLITE Television, you will see that this has been a great success and would appear that the FREE MARKET has made it so…but look at it logically and one would conclude that without the technology, there would be no satellite tv.So the TECHNOLOGY came first and then the FREE MARKET made the most of it.This is the way it works, the MARKET is the most efficient means of utilising technology or science.The success of the USA could be down to the fact that the USA is particulary good at utilising Technology and Science for maximum profit through the Free Market. So 2 things will be important in the future…1) TECHNOLOGY and SCIENCE,,,i.e. EDUCATION.2) The correct operation of the FREE MARKET.Unfortunately today, the FREE MARKET seems to be the most important.I think that this is a fundamental mistake and is a major cause for concern.We must get back to basics…EDUCATION + EDUCATION + EDUCATION of all our children irrespective of CLASS.Today our education seems to be producing clones for industry…Tick box education.We require people with CREATIVE IDEAS who are also WELL EDUCATED.Our CLASS system seems to be stifling creativity and producing office workers only. They know how to operate a computer and processes and that’s about it.Now looking back at the 20th. Century. The great advance in human civilisation has been through SCIENCE and TECHNOLOGY, but really in addition has been the discovery of OIL .PRIOR to WW1, we had STEAM POWER + HORSE POWER + lots of HUMAN POWER, but OIL changed all that and we must consider our future without oil.ELECTRICITY, I believe will be the future as this wlll drive everything.ELECTRICITY WILL BE THE NEW OIL….So where will we get this electricity from.?..Answer….NUCLEAR? ; GEOTHERMAL? ; COAL?; GAS?; GRAVITATIONAL;? or…please fill in details….We require TECHNOLOGY and SCIENCE here and not just the free market….The free market will not produce electricity…Only through science and technology.So to finalise, I think it is obvious that at present we are driven by the FREE MARKET and this has led us up the gumtree as it were…we are going nowhere fast and this has been going on since the infamous 80s….think SPIVS.!Our CLASS ridden society is certainly doing us no good…It is stifling CREATIVITY.To get back to a successful future therefore requires..EDUCATION that will produce CREATIVITY and not CLONES who only want to sit in front of a computer screen.The USA also seems to have strayed off the creativity path as it also is led by WALL STREET SPIVS.The Countries that have a good education system and social system will be the future. Thu 10 Mar 2011 10:17:01 GMT+1 mckirstie My eldest son graduated from University last summer and is currently 'enduring' his pre-reg year as an Optometrist. He had plenty of clinical practise at Uni, but nothing can replace the 'skills' one develops 'on the job'. He has a supervisor for the year and takes exams etc at regular times throughout this year. I have memories of his time in Primary school that still make me annoyed and astonished at the lack of common sense employed with regard to education policy. I was told, when I met the Headmistress of my son's prospective Infant school that I must not teach my son to read as it was the teacher's job, and that she hadn't bothered to do any reading with her own daughter before she started school. My son could already read and write to a small degree when he started at the Infants. Imagine my surprise and annoyance when for several months he continued to bring home books from the schools reading scheme with no words in. When asked the reason for this, the teacher explained that the children needed to learn which direction to turn the pages. I told her that my son had been looking at books and helping to turn the pages in the right direction since he was four months old (he's not a genius). "Well," was her response "Not all the other children know." It appears that what was most important was that those who could not do something must not be discouraged by those that could. If the children who can have to wait until those who cannot have caught up nobody will get very far. At the end of the school year I walked past the hall where the Headmistress was speaking to the parents of next years intake - I wasn't surprised to hear her telling the parents that it was vital for them to begin assisting their children with reading before they started at school. Apparently she had discovered that the input of parents was vital. DUH! Another problem at that school was that the children who came from 'disadvantaged' families (in the teachers opinion) were allowed to behave however they pleased, while children who supposedly came from 'non-disadvantaged' homes were given no leeway regarding behaviour and indeed were expected to put up with their packed lunches being eaten, models put on the 'showing' table being destroyed and then told they must not complain. Even I was expected to berate my own son for being upset at the loss of his lunch and the destruction of his model. I told the teacher she had it the wrong way round. Apparently not - apparently well behaved children (and there are plenty of children from 'disadvantaged' families who do behave well) of 4.5 years are expected to understand that little Jimmy or whoever is not as lucky as they are.Generations of children are being let down by the intrusion of politics into education. At bottom it is a matter of common sense. Everyone worried about boys not reading as much as girls - Female teacher at sons Primary school has the answer - Everyone to read 'The Little Princess'. Were the girls expected to read a 'boy' book? - Of course not - It's not like there aren't lots of 'unisex' novels for children to read is it?Here's one from Senior (Grammar) School, just to make sure us parents are bringing up our children to be good and helpful citizens - An example, given by my son's teacher, of exploitation - 'Parents asking their children to do the washing up'. He was serious. My son, bless him, was astonished!Governments need to stop tinkering with education - the teachers - and there are many excellent teachers out there - need to be allowed to teach, instead of spending so much time trying to keep up with all these new initiatives that keep cropping up like weeds - all of which gets in the way of our children's education. School is a place for children to be educated to the best of their ability - One size does not fit all, not in education and as we all know - not in clothing either. Our children and young people are being let down by successive governments indulging in their personal political dogmas and creeds. We hear this endlessly - Apprenticeships, Apprenticeships, Apprenticeships - technical schools. It would be nice if someone would actually listen and then act!!! And, lets stop pulling the wool over our children's eyes. They are not going to walk into their first job and be paid £15,000 a year at 16 yrs of age, with a little clutch of low grade GCSE's (a woman I know had to interview a school leaver in the employment agency where she worked part time. She herself was paid £10,000 per year (in her 40's), but the young girl had been told by her teacher she mustn't accept anything lower than £15,000). The expectation that a degree, any degree, is going to end in every graduate landing a lucrative and rewarding job is an expectation that no longer held water some time ago. Time to stop lying to the kiddies and inject a dose of reality - It really isn't fair to them. Wed 09 Mar 2011 16:06:23 GMT+1 bacasnack The 1944 Education Act was a wonderful thing. What a pity we didn't fully adopt its principals. It is important to equip pupils with the skills to enter the labour market and make them employable. Academia is not for everyone in the same way that technical schools would not suit all children. The crux is giving pupils the appropriate chances to learn what they choose. This should keep them motivated and produce outcomes that would both benefit themselves and society. Yet again Mark, a very interesting article. Wed 09 Mar 2011 12:54:42 GMT+1 crash You got to be kidding me Britain barely has any industry left,most self starters are planning on leaving the country due to the low standard of living.The taxation in the UK is designed for those who work to carry the lazy, i cannot imagine what people need to learn from them other than how to enslave the people through taxation. Wed 09 Mar 2011 12:38:37 GMT+1 WolfiePeters It seems that we as a nation are doing well out of our universities, yet we can still learn something from Germany: I've said before, we have some great universities, can we try to make the best of them rather than follow our tradition of destroying the best things in the UK? Wed 09 Mar 2011 12:34:04 GMT+1 Piggyback No point having knowledge if you can't use it.I believe the rapidly increasing population is squeezing potential vacancies in both low skilled and knowledge economies. Logically one could assume that with more people brings more demand for services i.e. jobs. But automation (electronic, mechanical) has meant that the increase in jobs is not keeping up with the numbers. Thus you have more and more manual labour losing their jobs - despite their protests on jobs being shipped abroad, overall relative to the numbers fewer openings are available in low skilled economies than years ago.Likewise for knowledge industries - there can only be so many senior associates and important players before too many cooks spoil the broth. The rest of the highly edcuated folk, big on ambition, education and talent - will be unsettled as they will never get beyond being a low level clerk. Wed 09 Mar 2011 10:26:05 GMT+1 monkeypuzzletree Before we focus to much on the virtues or non virtues of degrees versus alternative educational routes, we need in the UK to address the lack of numeracy, and written English at schools level.It is very much a case of 'from small acorns come oak trees'. Without the skills touched upon above, many youg people in the UK will be completely useless for any educational alternative. Indeed it may be in part due to lack of numeracy, that many students choose what are referred to as soft degrees.The 1944 Education Act sowed the seeds for what came after, in terms of status for different types of education and opportunity.None of us have equal talents, that is a fact of life that no political philosophy can change . But the British malaise is its cling to the class system, ie white collar/ blue collar jobs.We need thinkers and creators of the first order to have any chance to compete. But, I feel alas that many young people today, and tomorrow, will find themselves surplus to requirements for even the most basic jobs, never mind university, without basic skills.What a tragic waste! Wed 09 Mar 2011 09:34:10 GMT+1 holly_bush_berry Another plug for apprenticeships from me.I'd also draw on the parallels behind the idea of taking a young person, ensuring they have a firm foundation in what matters, teaching through on-the-job experience, handling materials, learning the characteristics of those materials, and supported by a regular pattern of essential lectures and learning material. If only our schools followed the same idea that it is the foundation laid early in a child's life that enables a complete person to grow and be built so sturdily s/he continues to gather expertise, knowledge and skill throughout their working life, qualities that can be passed on to the next generation of apprentice.I am dismayed by this item on special needs education: we have the classic 'conflict of interest' whereby the assessor and provider are the same intrinsic body. It is symptomatic of our misguided approach of always opting for the cheapest solution instead of setting aside appropriate budgets based on information and intelligence. We seem to spend a lot of money on consultation and totally ignore any comments that do not support political proposals. What on earth is the point of that? Wed 09 Mar 2011 07:55:22 GMT+1 tiger1982 Completely agree with the ex engineer. As an English manager working in Germany it is clear why the Germans are leading Europe out of a recession. The apprenticeships scheme are superb and you are not stigmatised (like in the UK) for not going to University and employees working in factories i.e. earn great money not the minimum wage like in the UK. Secondly German students actually study meaningful degrees, let me expand on the word meaningful. Economy, business admin, sciences, math and IT degrees which drive economies forward, unlike many UK students (i know I was one and I know many I am only 27) who opt for arts subjects or David Beckham type degrees. Therefore the German students are thoroughly prepared. Another reason why they are thoroughly prepared is due to the fact that school finishes at 21 in Germany and uni is 21 to 26 (many opt to do a masters). This in combination with internships throughout the summer holidays thoroughly prepare German students for a career. I am a very proud Englishman but the Germans have got the balance right in their economy and this in combination with true grit and determination has led them to this position. PS and to top it all degrees are around 1200e in total for a 5 year degree! Tue 08 Mar 2011 20:44:59 GMT+1 nautonier What Britain needs is less Universities and more technical colleges and good old fashioned polytechnics giving young British people British training for British jobs ... good solid vocational affordable courses for British kids ... stepping up perhaps from apprenticeships or even starting their own businesses.This means getting some clever people into the running of our Universities and not the foreign bribed anti-British whinging lazy part time spivs, that we have at the moment.There is no shortage of money ... there is a shortage of clever people in our UK Universities working in the British national interest to help British students by keeping course costs low for them; operating courses that are accessible and relevant to their competing for a job. Tue 08 Mar 2011 20:25:09 GMT+1 Keith And exactly what will all these graduates in the UK do for a living? If you believe knowledge is going to be the foundation of wealth in 21 st century Britain you need to explain what is it that these graduates are going to do that earns money for the UK that will not be done more cheaply by graduates from China. Tue 08 Mar 2011 13:31:25 GMT+1 david roberts #39 holly_bush_berryI don't think boats will be much use.I read somewhere (so it must be true) that if current civilisation was wiped out the survivors would never get back above the stone age because all the easily exploitable reserves of copper, tin, lead, iron, oil, coal etc. have been used up so the resources needed to develop a technologically based civilisation similar to our current one are no longer available.Perhaps not a bad thing for the planet.#42 holly_bush_berry"Not one country is solvent including China."Just goes to show that the monetary system is all smoke and mirrors.People and countries go bankrupt and default on their debts.Currencies are massively devalued.All this doesn't seem to change anything in the "real" world.Drifting off topic even further, obviously, apart from the original suggestion that graduates were the new wealth.A better blog topic might be "what is wealth and why do we need it?" Mon 07 Mar 2011 21:38:30 GMT+1 holly_bush_berry #41 BluesberryThe fact is the socio-economic system is designed on a reducing employment base but an increasing consumer base, presumably assisted by all those wonderful thinking graduates. It is an impossible conundrum which is the reason the total world debt exceeds global GDP ten times over. Not one country is solvent including China.It makes you think, if we were not so immersed in education. Mon 07 Mar 2011 14:55:46 GMT+1 BluesBerry Are graduates the equivalent of oil in the 20th Century and coal in the 19th? Goodness, I hope not because oil too is becoming, will become, obsolete as a power sourse.I agree that the debate about university tuition fees is overshadowing a more fundamental shift that WILL DECIDE future job prospects...and ultimately the well-being of the British population. There are countries turning out highly skilled labour (usually degreed, but always innovative, creative and thinking/pondering). This is where some countries, including the United and the UK are falling down. Western teaching is usually so much inside-the-box that the student has little change of seeing daylight; so, s/he sits in the corner consuming rote as though it's true learning.Inside-the-box, we have low-skilled, limited thinking, manufacturing-type jobs, which as they years passs, will be replaced by robots (likely manufactured in Japan or China).Knowledge is a factor, but not the key factor. Rote memory is certainly no factor at all, and too much western education is rote memory. Knowledge can be accessed via e.g. the internet - no need to spend precious time memorizing knowledge that is accessible.The key component that a student must have is the ability to climb out of the box, see the light, and come to a personal Eureka moment.If countries are to remain competitive, they must1. Consider education extremely relevant and fund it accordingly.2. The curriculim must teach students how to think, debate, question...3. Remove all rote and train students on how to find knowledge 4. Constantly (at last yearly) evaluate students to determine the level at which they are able to contribute to society; that is, seperate the higher education sorts from the less gifted. This is a very psychological seperation because western systems tend to value the highly-educated while downplaying the so-called "dumb". We must do much more to establish "work" equality in the sense that those who give their all are giving their all and no one could do more than that. Also, this item is extremely important because if all young people felt that they could provide a meaningdul contribution to society, that they were valued by society, I honestly believe that youth crime would go down.In conclusion: the west needs a wake-up call. Robots will do rote. Teach people how to think! Mon 07 Mar 2011 13:46:28 GMT+1 DibbySpot There is no point having a degree when the quality is low and ability to use it in the wider world minimal.When recruiting staff one normally finds the Briths seeking hgihest salary for least skill set. Meanwhile British companies are normally the most political, least efficient, most expensive, and have senior managers/dircotrs whose interest is personal wealth rather than shareholder value.Against this background getting a degree is rather pointless. UK needs to invest in teachers and skills in the universities not rely on others to fund that. Mon 07 Mar 2011 07:17:20 GMT+1 holly_bush_berry #38 david robertsHaving watched one self styled apocalyptic film in the last twenty four hours, albeit with a significant scientific investigation of the Mayan prophecies surrounding 21.12.12, I am not moved to panic by your dystopian view of a UK in decline. After all we are not alone.Some children may run, and they may 'save' themselves by doing so if they find rewarding careers elsewhere, just as many have done before them. But life is much more than looking at an emptying oil well and giving up. And there are many things we do well but hardly exploit at all. Conversly there are many things we do badly and throw lots of money at. Studying climate change but missing all the subtle clues is the latter case in point here.The Mayan prophecy suggests we are about to be engulfed by a catastrophic planetary event and science seems to support this from the evidential signatures of the last time their calendar ran out 5,200 years ago, when there was massive and abrupt climate change. Of course we have witnessed many failed prophecies before, just as the UK has been on the edge many times without falling in, and we all know nothing is more certain in life than we have no idea what is to happen next. But if were in Government now the last thing on my mind would be repaying the deficit at break neck speed; I'd be building boats, lots of them, and selling them at healthy profit....Swim, children, swim.... Mon 07 Mar 2011 00:58:15 GMT+1 david roberts Graduates are not coal or oil (or iron ore, bauxite, gold, silver etc.).Coal and oil reserves are geographically static resources - if you have them in your country then you have an exploitable natural resource and source of wealth until you have used them all up (as is almost the case in the UK). You also have the basis of a manufacturing industry to add value to your natural resources.Knowledge in human brains is infinitely relocatable. For decades there have been complaints about the 'brain drain' where knowledge workers are enticed abroad.Look at the IT industry - the UK used to have a massive workforce but now most of the work is outsourced (off-shored) to India and other areas with a developing skilled work force and lower costs. Other labour intensive modern jobs such as call centres are also off-shore.To compete in knowledge industries you have to offer a skilled workforce at a competitive price. As knowledge and skills are developed elsewhere and become globally available the only remaining area to compete on is price. So to stay competitive we would have to lower our wages and accept a lower standard of living. I cannot see this being popular.My advice to my graduate children is to plan to move to a country which still has unexploited natural resources and a good chance of an expanding economy (Australia is one good example).*We have used up nearly all our natural resources.*We are no longer competitive in most manufacturing as the skills have been exported and are easily relocatable to anywhere with cheap labour.*Our lead in the knowledge industry has gone as the skills have been exported and are easily relocatable to anywhere with cheap living costs.*We are clinging onto the finance industry but the last round of phantom wealth it generated has done a lot of damage.*We no longer have the option to invade and plunder less developed nations.So all the wealth creation schemes from our proud (?) history seem to be coming to an end.What have we left to continue our prosperity and support all the deserving baby boomers in their old age?Too late for us to leave (who would have us when they already have problems caring for their own baby boomers?).Run children, run. There may still be time to save yourselves! Sat 05 Mar 2011 23:57:14 GMT+1 jon112dk 36. At 1:42pm on 05 Mar 2011, nautonierYou don't need to change the 'managers' - just pay the money for more english young people and the current hierarchy will provide the all the new places in short order.Since when is it 'corrupt' for a business to sell it's product to a paying customer? My understanding is that trade sanctions against ghadaffi had been lifted. It is no more corrupt for LSE to do business with him than for Cameron to do trade with Kuwait, Saudi-Arabia, China etc etc - none of which are exactly thriving liberal democracies. Sat 05 Mar 2011 16:40:11 GMT+1 nautonier What the UK needs is to stop allowing foreigners to buy out corrupt British University managers and crucially... get some clever and honest British people, with pride in Britain, into our Unviversities with relevant British qualifications who understand the need to get British kids into British Universities so that British kids can go to British Univesrities and get British jobs for British workers in Britain.Theer are obviously too many thick bent managers in British Universities who can't do the clever things to help British people find work in their own country.Too many stupid bent politicised people in our Universities selling out to bent foreigners like e.g. London School of Economics ... they all need sacking as they're ruining the education and prospects of British kids!You don't need to pay me a BBC experts salary ... you get my news for 'free'.Simples! Sat 05 Mar 2011 13:42:28 GMT+1 jon112dk 32. At 10:00pm on 04 Mar 2011, nautonierThe non-EU students (eg. Chinese) don't steal places from UK students.The government sets a specific cap on the number of UK students we can take on - if we take on any more than that number they actually FINE us money.We take on as many UK students as we are allowed AND recruit non-EU students, which are not capped. There is no overall limit to how many students we can take - this is a business, if the demand is there then we build more lecture theatres and employ more staff. The UK students pay £3k in fees, the non-EU students are charged whatever the market will take. A typical figure would £10-12k.The reality is it that the non-EU students are subsidising the UK students. The overseas students also bring in genuine foreign currency earnings for the UK - both fees and the cash money they spend while they live here. The city my university is in now has no industry. I believe we are the city's biggest single employer. We are certainly the city's biggest earner of foreign currency.Imigration? The government needs to sort out two issues - bogus, non-degree courses set up in bogus colleges just to get visas for dosh and the ludicrous situation where people who say they are here to learn are allowed to stay on and get a job - end of course should equal end of visa. If they want to do another course to stay longer, that is fine by me so long as they pay. Sat 05 Mar 2011 11:47:28 GMT+1 jon112dk 33. At 10:03pm on 04 Mar 2011, SimplewayI think this is the fundamental issue here - people in the last remnants of the old british industries still not having caught on to the changing world.There was a time when you could have cast an iron anchor and sold it to people in India, Africa or China - they could not make one themselves. At the moment the Chinese have completely eclipsed you in terms of manufacturing but people in the UK could still do the fundamental research, development and design for the chinese to carry out the manufacture.At this very moment the chinese are packing our universities. They don't just understand the value of a degree, they want a PhD so they can carry out the advanced research and open their own universities. We have branches of our universities actually in China meeting the demand. In a short while they will not be needing us for the research, development or design.In China (or Germany) the guy in charge of developing the next generation of stability control for a future car is 'doctor xxx.' In the UK we still have people banging on about no need for a degree. Sat 05 Mar 2011 11:26:32 GMT+1 Simpleway I have worked in the advanced manufacturing industry for over 15 years and have found the most intellectual well knowledged employees to be those of skilled apprentiship back ground. Many graduates I have worked with know all the correct clever words but in practice have little to no knowledge of manufacturing. I put this to you all, would you rather be educated by a tutor whom may never have worked in an particular industry or a veteran whom has seen it all and invented half, whom has worked through change and modernisation and all the rest. A graduate engineer studies for approx 6150 hrs (Mostly classroom)A apprentice learns and studies for 7680 hrs (Mixed class and hands on)I suggest that an engineer graduate have an apprentiship before acquiring a further academic level to give him the most valued education level.The issue we have here is all the people making the rules have degrees so for self preservation reasons promote this way as the best.Have you ever heard a professional footballer saying rugby is better!And on that note should Alex Ferguson be qualified and if so who can teach him. When you study for a degree as I have you are educated about past genius of your chosen vocation, however laughable most did not possess a degree? Fri 04 Mar 2011 22:03:25 GMT+1 nautonier Another misleading BBC thread/post?Does the post relate to British graduates or foreign graduates stealing University places and jobs from British students?There is a problem ... the post is weak on the cause ... mass uncontrolled immigration to the UK that is foreign students encouraged by foreign bribed British Universities (just like the London School of Economics) to allow foreign students to target British jobs and British University places. Fri 04 Mar 2011 22:00:17 GMT+1 BluesBerry Are graduates the equivalent of oil in the 20th Century and coal in the 19th? Yep.I agree with you that as one consequence at the end of the 20th Century, the UK found itself with a higher proportion of low-skilled and unskilled workers than most other developed countries. I also agre with the consequences: inequality, deprivation and child poverty...i.e. a bigger class divide.In fact, I found your article overall enlightening and thoughtful, especially this eye-opener: For each Briton who graduates there are at least 20 Chinese and Indian graduates competing for work in the global marketplace. I'm wandering though about The London School of Economics (LSE) and why it has reeived £1M as part of a deal to train Libya's future elite. What is this? Have we already enshrined the Gaddafi into the future of Libya?The LSE agreed to bring 400 people to Britain, as well as 250 other who were going to be trained inside Libya. The LSE is believed to have charged more than £1M for the training but it is not known how much it received. The university admitted that it ran education courses for "Libyan officials". The LSE agreed to pay back £300,000 received from a foundation run by Saif al-Islam Qaddafi, the Libyan dictator's son, who studied at the university. I'm at a loss to explain this irregularity. Are other academic institutions of higher education also participating un educating Libya's elite? If yes, this doesn't come across as very democratic to me.LSE said it has severed ties with Saif. Saif's International Charity and Development Foundation had donated 1.5M pounds over five years. Fri 04 Mar 2011 16:03:17 GMT+1 WolfiePeters More than 40 years ago my university required all engineering students to spend time (two or three months minimum) gaining apprentice type experience before they could graduate. That would be impossible today with so few apprentice schemes, no training workshops, and, for that matter, little manufacturing industry.Isn't it an area where UKGov should step in, assuming they want a future for the UK? Fri 04 Mar 2011 15:21:25 GMT+1 abcdef11 Sir,Just because the number of graduates are going up is not a sign of prosperity nor will it be a self-fulfilling ambition, resulting in more jobs for graduates. The key is surely the actual economic need- is there a shortfall of graduates or of plumbers? Is it difficult to find a good nanny or gardner? Have these roles become undervalued? Another comment clearly highlights an area where we already have some expertise- new technologies - and if we can incentivise people to pursue this as a career we can be world leaders. At the very least we may produce more people who can understand and use statistics well. I suggest you read "Overschooled but Undereducated" by John Abbott as it highlights exactly the problems with education today. Fri 04 Mar 2011 13:56:48 GMT+1 jon112dk 27. At 9:56pm on 03 Mar 2011, smallvizierSome of the best training around is done by companies.==========================Why don't these companies get on with it for themselves then?The_Ex_Engineer (#5) bemoans a lack of people able to bolt mobile phone masts together, yet firms like vodaphone are making billions in profit and are highly lets call it 'tax efficient.'I really can't see it as the role of the taxpayer to provide basic training for a job specific skill. Some college somewhere with a mock mobile phone mast to erect? How about a youngster standing alongside an experienced guy and putting up a real mast under supervision?The old victorian businesses Mark talks about used to have something called 'apprentices' How about it, multi-billion corporations - stop whingeing. Cease the model where you train no one then poach the few skilled people from other firms or from abroad - train some apprentices.We have several million NEETs you can do that with, before you need to start impinging on the young people smart enough to go to university. Fri 04 Mar 2011 10:55:14 GMT+1 smallvizier 'Skilled' doesn't have to mean university.Some of the best training around is done by companies. Increasingly, a degree might help you get a job, but it's useless once you're there: your employer will send you on a focused course which teaches you relevant skills along with discipline and responsibility a lot more effectively than university.As a bonus, companies are much better than students at holding the training providers to account and obtaining cost-effective, high-quality teaching.On top of that, they'll pay for the training so students don't have to take on debt. In fact, they'll get paid!Yes, we need more skilled workers. No, we don't need more students. I beleive the model for the future should be a gap year (for personal development / fun) followed by a hands-on job with built-in training. Thu 03 Mar 2011 21:56:50 GMT+1 corum-populo-2010 Dear Mark,Perhaps it would be helpful for you to investigate the benefits of English students (facing higher fees) to emigrate to European universities to gain an excellent qualification for half the cost in England?Indeed, I would go further and suggest that young people with a vocational or practical ability should leave the UK and study in Poland to obtain what Poland has taught so well - including discipline. As an EU Member country, and EU member citizens - our young people would benefit from studying/training in other EU Member States? Grants are available for poor English students to study/train in Europe under EU grants.So, Mark, do widen your brief for the benefit of everyone? Just a thought. Thu 03 Mar 2011 17:10:06 GMT+1 WolfiePeters I'll support the comments of Jon112dk @40.Our universities are full of Chinese students, a huge number in our best universities doing PhDs. There should be a couple of clues there:1. Our best universities are very good, certainly amongst the best in the world. 2. It pays to give the best education to your best students. Let's keep our best universities at the highest level. There's little else of value that we offer the world. We need them to build some sort of future for this country. Most of all, we need some of our best students to fill some of those PhD place! Thu 03 Mar 2011 14:57:19 GMT+1 jon112dk I think Mark is broadly correct here.The big issue for UK is so many people - including business leaders - clinging to ideas like 'I left school at 15 and it never hurt me' or 'these graduates have lots of qualifications but no common sense' We also have people wedded to the view that only manufacturing a car, or some other object, adds value/earns money.As a reflection of that failed philsophy the current government is working full on to trash the university system.Meanwhile the university I work for is flooded with bright young people from china doing not just degrees but PhDs. Their government facilitates us setting up branches of the university in china. They are working hard to be able to fully run an equivalent university all by themselves (that's why they are paying for people to do their PhD).At this time, the disunited kingdom can not compete with china on the basis of undercutting labour costs. In the near future we will not be able to compete on the basis of knowledge. Thu 03 Mar 2011 10:57:05 GMT+1 holly_bush_berry Human beings have been traded as commodities for a long time, although I wasn't aware their grey matter was more vital than their muscle, useful body parts, or attractiveness. And most of what a human being is, is the result of a genetic lottery. Most of what a human being achieves is the result of another kind of lottery.I pride myself in not being an academic snob, and having rubbed shoulders with a considerable spectrum of humanity I am glad I am not. You see the lottery reshuffles the pack all the time, and so the 'knowledge' of today, becomes the 'fallacy' of yesterday. But our brains do make some sense of it all, if we allow them a degree of latitude and free thought. Of course latitude and free thought also depend on a lottery, and are hardly on offer to a supermarket check out assistant, or, are they? Is there another J K Rowling on that till, scanning your shopping, and waiting for an academically educated publisher to actually realise the lump of gold bullion resting in their in-tray in the form of a manuscript?It is all a lottery and the ONS don't run lotteries do they? We have Camelot doing that. Thu 03 Mar 2011 08:05:07 GMT+1 AnotherOldMan Dear Mr EastonIn my note yesterday evening, I overstated the case. There are essential skills which in practice can only be learned on the job. If The_Ex_Engineer and others are upset by what I wrote, I beg their pardon.That is the first point. The second is that of course I was not writing about all graduates. A mediocre graduate is as much of a liability as a mediocrity of any other sort. Added to that, a graduate in a useless subject (or a graduate with a degree irrelevant to his job) is not much use. I am only interested in competent hardworking graduates with relevant degrees which qualify them to contribute to the creation of wealth. This might include, for example, J K Rowling. Please, though, don't imagine that I am keen to create lots of graduates in Eng Lit and History and PPE. I am not.The third point is that this restriction is much less restrictive than it might appear. Someone once surveyed mathematics graduates in commerce and industry. The survey asked both the graduates themselves, and their employers, whether the mathematics degree was relevant to their jobs. The two groups gave different answers. The employers said that, mostly, the employees' degrees were not very useful. The employees themselves said that their degrees were useful. Although the tasks their employers gave them did not obviously need all the degree course material, in fact the degree course material gave the mathematics graduates a background which let them form fuller perspectives of their work tasks and which did help them to do those tasks.I studied mathematics, then spent some years writing software (seemingly unrelated to mathematics), and then taught computer science. The professor who hired me to teach once asked me what makes a computer scientist. I did not know. He then said that a programmer is someone who writes code; a software engineer is someone who writes reliable code, code which can be depended on to do what it is supposed to do; and a computer scientist is a software engineer who, at least in principle, could prove that his code is reliable. My degree was relevant because it trained me to discover and recognise proofs. Later, I found that it was relevant in other ways too. This relevance was not obvious even to me at first. Thu 03 Mar 2011 07:43:22 GMT+1 AnotherOldMan Dear Mr EastonAs so often, there is confusion in various aspects of this discussion.Your basic idea is right: we live in a competitive knowledge economy, and we need people with the knowledge.The basic attitude of "The_Ex_Engineer", writing at 4.21 pm, is right too: we need people with the skills.The first confusion concerns what we are trying to achieve. The so-called knowledge economy which I think you understand involves "financial consultants, business managers, lawyers". This is not enough. Such people provide services. What we need principally is wealth. The distinction is this: wealth can, in principle, be traded repeatedly. A service cannot. For instance, food and raw materials are wealth. Infrastructure and knowledge and useful people are also wealth, since in principle they can also be traded: infrastructure is owned, so can be traded; knowledge can be patented, and patents can be traded; and people work in teams, called companies, whose shares can be and are traded. The services provided by consultants, managers and lawyers can be sold once, but not re-sold. From an economic point of view, the service provided by such a person is more like the provision of a cup of tea than the cup of tea itself. The cup of tea is intrinsically more valuable than the act of providing it.The second confusion concerns what well educated people do. They create wealth by various different processes. In your interesting outline, you did not discuss this. The_Ex_Engineer discusses it to some extent, and says rightly that the creative process demands skills. He also mentions that it typically demands the knowledge of a graduate, but only for initial design. This is a mistake. The creative process, following the design, also demands knowledge because it can go wrong. Only someone who understands why the design is as it is can recongise when it is going wrong, and why, and can devise a correction.I have stood a yard away from a nodding donkey oil well. It is maybe a mile deep. The men who surveyed the site had to construct charts of the underground strata from noisy records of seismic data. This required knowledge of Fourier transforms and petrology and the approximate algorithms which they have to use. The well drillers have to read these charts and hit a pocket of oil which may not actually appear on the charts. Once the well is in operation, the people controlling it have to cope when the oil-bearing pores in the rock at the bottom get clogged with wax. You can't solve such problems without knowledge, most of which is much more cheaply learned in lectures than by trial and error with real wells.This knowledge is required at every level: in the field, at the well head; in the data analysis rooms, where the seismic analysis gets done; in the finance department, where resources are allocated and performance is studied; and in the board room where strategic decisions are made. Salesmen are often granduates because they have to know enough to cope with any question and to recognise any new marketing opportunity. Graduates are needed at every level.The third confusion, perhaps the most insidious, concerns the notions of intellect and academia. You write that these are the field of the old grammar schools. You got that right. You then contrast them with "technical schools for engineers and scientists". Do you believe this, or are you just quoting past discussions of the 1944 Education Act? I hope you don't believe it. No budding engineer or scientist would deign to go to a school not intended for "the intellectual and academic". Science, when well taught, is the most demanding and the most delightful and fascinating intellectual experience imaginable. I mean that.There are of course other confused issues. For instance, it is a mistake to compare German degrees and British degrees. A German first degree is more like a British doctorate. It is also a mistake to imagine that a British university is necessarily an academic institution. Some so-called universities in this country would be better described as managerial institutions which employ academics. This is a serious distinction. The academic ideal means open discussion of shared knowledge in which all qualified people are respected equally. The managerial reality is a secretive hierarchy in which what matters is power. Wed 02 Mar 2011 23:33:46 GMT+1 presterjohn Here's a thing - (which may be relevant and even put things in a nutshell). When I worked in Saudi Arabia on the oil rigs ALL the management of Aramco(graduates) in the offices and a lot of the unskilled workers on the rigs were Saudi but the people in between - the technical guys who were the only ones who were absolutely essential for getting the stuff out of the ground were highly experienced and mostly degreeless ex-pats... They were and are, I suppose you could argue, the guys who keep ALL the economies of the world afloat... Wed 02 Mar 2011 21:21:45 GMT+1 NewsStudent The UK will have never have an even remotely balanced economy. With just a few exceptions ( Rolls Royce, the Pharmaceutical industry and perhaps a few other mid sized engineering companies), there are no British owned and managed manufacturing companies. A highly skilled workforce is not needed to work for a Japanese car company assembling in the UK. The Japanese do all the design work in Japan, design the assembly equipment and come over here and build the plants. Then they need just a few UK engineers to make it look as if the Brits are doing something useful. The few German engineers that have degrees are very skilled entrepreneurs who manage companies and design the products that their skilled non graduate technicians turn into the products we buy.And as for renewable energy, the big companies are German, Danish, Chinese or American. The UK minnows developing wave or tidal power will soon sell themselves to overseas owners if they manage to develop a profitable and successful product. As Napoleon correctly said, we are nation of shopkeepers with financial services hangers on taking all the money. Welcome to the 21st Century! Wed 02 Mar 2011 20:43:53 GMT+1 charlieh777 I am very skilled in winning people financial compensation but I do not have a degree. Mark easton doesnt know what hes talking about having a degree does not make you highly skilled and I find his suggestion that people without degrees are unskilled is very insulting. Wed 02 Mar 2011 20:37:53 GMT+1 AnotherAngle The last time that I checked, not one of the dragons on Dragon's Den had a degree. Wed 02 Mar 2011 19:38:45 GMT+1 ChrisRamsbottom I would like to comment on the "1%" figure for graduate unemployment mentioned in the text. I was a business consultant until last year, when a slipped disc resulted in me having to put my business on hold. Now with the economic downturn, I find my clients are not in a position to hire consultants and so I have decided to look for paid employment. When I tried to claim JSA, I was told I was not entitled to it because, having been self-employed for the last 7 years, I do not have the right contributions record. I failed to see the point of continuing to sign on, so I'm not currently claiming any benefit, nor do I show in any figures. I suspect the true figure is much, much higher and "hidden" by self-employment. Wed 02 Mar 2011 19:07:32 GMT+1 muttlee As the late Kenneth Williams once observed: 'People are becoming more and more specialised,getting better and better at less and less. One day someone will be absolutely brilliant at doing absolutely nothing!'In the meantime we have to import tradesmen and technicians from abroad because our education system is geared up to produce fodder for universities rather than vocational trainees. Those that fail to reach the dizzy heights of academe are left to rot on the dole or as minimum waged agency slave labour. We used to be the engine of the world with innovative and vibrant industries and trades we could be proud of.....nowadays we excel in producing degree holding business administration executives,transport managers with PhD's and world class graduate speculative investment bankers. Forgive me if I am not impressed. Wed 02 Mar 2011 18:47:35 GMT+1 mesmerizing commenter For technical jobs or something like law or high level finance a degree can teach you something useful. For most jobs though all we have done is raise the entry level from A levels (like for working in a bank) to a degree entry level. So we waste at least 3 years of someones time, loss of income and productivity, and the cost...and they are in exactly the same position as someone leaving college with A levels in the 1970'sAlso, you have to have a political and social drive to promote technical subjects. In asia for example, I have been to taiwan, china, korea, japan, even go into a mall bookshop and in the middle are hundreds of technical books (all in english) with lots of people looking at them. In britain if you want a technical book you have to go online or to a handful of specialist bookshops.Without the will to curtail art history and media studies (and it seems to be a vote loser) you cant make the push for degrees in technical or any other useful for work subject.If they were brave the politicians would create a list of jobs needed in the economy, then make those courses free and hike the price of the ones not seen as useful to the economy. Wed 02 Mar 2011 18:37:12 GMT+1 WolfiePeters First, the more relevant comparison is with Germany. The power house of Europe is not following the universal degree path.In addition, in Italy and the Netherlands (and probably some other countries), many students spend two or more times as long as we do in the UK registered for their degrees.And, without offending anyone, not all universities and not all degrees are the best quality. Finally, as several have already stated, academically qualified does not necessarily mean intelligent or able (not even academically). There are lots of abilities and skills all valid and worthwhile and to be respected. There's nothing wrong with being a good mechanic, a good dressmaker or a good butcher. Wed 02 Mar 2011 18:33:54 GMT+1 tiggeralto I agree with those doubting whether degrees are a very useful measure. As noted before, look at Germany with a very low University qualification rate. I have a physics degree which I have never used. It has been moderately useful when I have wanted to understand how machines work and did make me very determined to want proof of statements but these are both proclivities which could have been imbued much more cheaply than very expensive science degree. I have an MBA which enabled to manage big companies and got me some fascinating jobs but was pretty useless at running small companies or doing most of the jobs of the people who worked for me. Slight element of "entertainment value only"!I am now retired and I look back on my career and realise that I have been very lucky indeed. My children work harder than I did and, relatively speaking, may well not earn as much I did. As the world gets more and more competitive, I am not sure that we can afford the luxury of giving so many people educations that are only marginally relevant to their careers.This does have some nasty implications as it means that kids will have to choose their careers earlier and may well be locked in more firmly. I fear the idea that people will be able to move more between industries and disciplines is complete nonsense. The world is going to get more brutish for many people unless we can manage to run our businesses more effectively. Wed 02 Mar 2011 18:26:14 GMT+1 Beterthanpokeintheeye As energy and food prices skyrocket, how useful are most of these degrees going to be in practice? Can we burn graduates to heat our homes or places of work? Can we eat graduates? Maybe we'll have to.As many respondents point out, you've missed the real issue, that "graduates=good, more graduates=better" does not apply any more, not that it ever really did. As more and more manufacturing, engineering and similarly skilled activities are sent off shore, those types of relatively well paid and productive jobs are being exchanged for either poorly paid retail service jobs or none at all. The vast majority of those who are presiding over the remains of our economy are not affected in any meaningful, practical way by their decisions to make our country a pure service economy. The minority left at the top of heap will continue to live a happy life of 5 holidays a year, a car for each family member, warm homes, new clothes etc. Their offspring will reap the benefits of their paid for extra tutoring and schooling, interesting and educational extra curricular activities, and/or a high quality private education. These kids will waltz into the better university places and then the pick of the job market, which they have come to assume are theirs by right. They will, following their parents, continue to exercise economic control over those at the bottom, who have been consigned to a life of subsistence level poverty, poor education, effective economic slavery, drudgery and fatigue, always just one step from the county court judgement and with no financial space to manouver into a better position. The Good Ship Britain is begining to look rather too much like that space ship at the end of the Hitch Hikers Guide to The Galaxy. You know, the Golgafrincham Ark Fleet. Ship B, except the reality is that most of us will have little choice but those jobs, starvation or begging on the streets, and the economic elites will keep us in Ship B, on the economic leash to do those jobs they don't like to do for themselves, while they sun themselves in the luxury of Ship A, with the gangplank firmly stowed away for emergency exit only. Wed 02 Mar 2011 18:12:59 GMT+1 The_Ex_Engineer newshounduk @7 - I think you are entirely correct, the most fundamental problem we have in the UK is with primary education.There are numerous problems, some of the main ones being:- Lack of a 'work ethic' and generally low expectations within primary education.- Lack of modern foreign language education at primary level.- Lack of mathematical and scientific knowledge and understanding by large numbers of primary school teachers.- Effective bias against male primary school teachers.- Effective bias against the more academically able teaching in primary (rather than in secondary or higher/further) education.As the article states, we are moving into a knowledge economy which will be underpinned by technology and information which ultimately rely on people being highly numerate and literate. Unfortunately we have a generation of primary teachers many of whom lack confidence in even basic mathematics and lack understanding of the underpinnings of modern science or technology. On the evidence of the secondary maths teachers I know, just teaching kids long multiplication or basic fractions is beyond some of them.It might be a bit too much to expect every teacher to understand the difference between FDMA or TDMA, or the details of ADSL & OFDM or explain a Discrete Cosine Transform but it would be nice to think that they could explain to a child in factually correct terms how a mobile phone or broadband internet connection works or what is happening when you take a digital photo. Unfortunately it seems currently that the sort of people who are actually interested in understanding modern technology are the last people likely to be found in a primary school.PS Other posters, have a think about how clearly you could explain to a 10 year old how a mobile phone actually works? or the internet? or a digital camera? Wed 02 Mar 2011 18:09:08 GMT+1 MickS Sadly our Educashun system has been corrupted such that the important thing is the pieces of paper obtained by the students rather than imparting knowledge and understanding. Having a degree does not guarantee that someone is skilled. Wed 02 Mar 2011 17:30:19 GMT+1 barryp 5. At 4:21pm on 02 Mar 2011, The_Ex_Engineer wrote:Mark, I'm afraid you are falling into the dangerous trap of thinking that highly-skilled = graduate.The full comments by Ex Engineer go straight to the problem with this countries 'Education'. It is not a Degree that is needed, it is skill. Sometime that skill might come from a degree course, but more often a simple degree holder will need further and intensive training to even start to be worth their salt. We need as a Nation to provide a wide range of usable and transferable skills to our young. Those skills may be a degree in Law or Journalism, they may start with a degree in Engineering or Architecture, they may be based on a supposedly 'lower' level of education. It is time that the degree myth was debunked, and education became fit for purpose. Quite simply a degree is only the start of a specialised education and only one of several entry levels for most careers. Wed 02 Mar 2011 17:09:14 GMT+1 newshounduk Though other countries are increasing the number of graduates it would be interesting to see the breakdown of the areas in which they have their degree as some have a greater relationship to a job than others.I suspect that a lot of our degrees may be in the soft areas with science and technology being the less studied areas.I think our big mistake was to abandon technical schools which seem to combine the accademic rigour of grammar schools with the practicality of the secondary modern.I often feel that our primary schools no longer prepare children for secondary education in the way that they used to with more illiterate and innumerate pupils passing into the secondary sector. With the best will in the world many of those children will not realise their full potential.The education system generally does not seem to be geared up in an organised way to develop the skills, knowledge, attitudes and qualities which children need to cope well in an changing world.Being a graduate is not, and probably never was, the automatic passport to success which some believe especially when many heads of industry and commerce are non-graduates themselves. Perhaps the worse aspect to all this is that graduates are not steered to study in areas where there are shortages which is why organisations like the NHS are short of radiologists, midwives, doctors etc. though we see to have have an excess of graduates in media studies and similar subjects. Wed 02 Mar 2011 16:52:01 GMT+1 kaybraes It's not a lack of graduates that is the problem, it's the idea that a degree entitles the holder to a job where the feet can be rested all day on a desk and cash will roll in at the end of the week. An awful lot of the degrees being handed out are irrelevant to industry's needs, and designed to get "bums on seats " to subsidise the universities. There may be graduates aplenty in China and India, but the bulk of the workforce in these countries may not have spent a lot of time in a classroom but can use their hands and minds to drive the fastest expanding economies in history. Maybe this is the culture we should be promoting, not the culture we promote at present , that the world owes us a living. Wed 02 Mar 2011 16:41:16 GMT+1 The_Ex_Engineer Mark, I'm afraid you are falling into the dangerous trap of thinking that highly-skilled = graduate.In fact nothing could be further from the truth. Graduates in the main have knowledge and analytical ability, what they do not have is 'skills'. People only gain skills through highly specific vocational training and longer term employment experience. As any Accountant or Lawyer will be happy to tell you having a degree in law or accountancy is completely irrelevant to qualifying within the profession. In both cases it is professional training and exams that count.The same applies to a greater or lesser extend in most fields outside the public sector. One perfect example is aircraft maintenance and serving which is about as highly skilled as it comes. It is an international and highly regulated but completely non-graduate profession. The same applies for pilots and air-traffic control.In the utilities (including telecoms) and construction only the tiniest proportion of jobs require genuine graduates. For every graduate communication engineer designing the latest mobile network you need hundreds of skilled technicians and linesmen to survey sites, erect masts, install, test and maintain equipment. For every graduate nuclear engineer designing the latest generation power station, dozens of trained operators and staff are needed. On a large infrastructure project, for every one architect there may be several chartered engineers working but there will need to be hundreds of skilled technicians and tradesmen for whom degrees are irrelevant. Exactly the same applies within other high-tech sectors like offshore oil and gas. The majority of the jobs are essentially non-graduate and it is unlikely to change.People keep talking about growth in renewable energy and the skills gap there. However, if you look at the mixed of skills needed to design, build, maintain and operate offshore wind farms then exactly the same applies. Lots of welders, fabricators, boat/crane operators and mechanics are needed but only a very small number of graduate engineers. Germany is leading Europe out of recession with only around 25% of its population study at University. However, what it still has is apprenticeship and extremely strong technical colleges.From regularly reading your posts I thought you had more sense than to fall for the simplistic reasoning of 'more graduates is better'.They way forward is to work out how to get more of our citizens ready to enter the modern world of work when they are 18, not contrive to have them spend 3 more years running up debts.PS If you really want to some journalism, speak to a major UK high-tech employed like Rolls Royce, BT or BP and find out what proportion of skilled/technical staff that they have recruited in the last year have actually been for graduate positions. Wed 02 Mar 2011 16:21:19 GMT+1 John Ellis Will all these degree students be working abroad as we cant fill our current graduate needs of employment.?Or is the UK gov going to spring up with a master plan to make the UK a science and research capital of the world? Wed 02 Mar 2011 15:41:26 GMT+1 watriler Something is wrong when there is nearly 9M of working age but not gainfully employed of which 2.5M are officially unemployed of which nearly 1M are young people NEETS and of which there are many graduates who are employed in industries other than that described as knowledge like lap dancing, catering, cleaning. Less of this talk of the knowledge revolution before we have a government that can actually build and manage a modern, balanced economy and not pursue social policies that penalise those who wish to acquire knowledge and skills. Wed 02 Mar 2011 15:39:30 GMT+1 Brian_NE37 The elephant in the room here is that completing a degree doesn't magically make someone more intelligent. Many of the people who complete degree courses these days and end up with a 2.2 or a 3 will come away without having gained any real benefit from 3 years of study. They'd have been better on a shorter, less academic course or going straight into work.The fact that many other countries have leapt on the 'never mind the quality feel the width' bandwagon is no justification for doing that in the UK. Wed 02 Mar 2011 14:35:07 GMT+1 jr4412 Mark Easton."The United Kingdom has in-built advantages as the global knowledge economy takes shape.."that might be wishful thinking."By 2007, despite expenditure of some £5 billion, the evidence was that a large proportion of the adult population still could not read, write and count adequately. According to the most recent figures, the UK is ranked 14th in the international league tables of literacy and numeracy." Wed 02 Mar 2011 13:41:17 GMT+1