More and more teenagers are heading for University.  That means that there are more people with degrees entering the job market.  The result is that an increasing number of employers are looking for qualifications, even for lower level positions. Graduates earn, on average, 48% more than students who have got a handful of GCSEs.  That alone makes getting a degree a sensible life choice. But there’s more to it than that.  People without a degree form a much bigger percentage of the unemployed than those who have achieved a degree.  This is particularly noticeable in the years immediately post-education, when the addition of work experience is limited, so a degree gives potential employers confidence. This may account for the fact that many degree holders are competing for the top jobs and many newly qualified graduates find themselves in jobs where a degree isn’t really necessary.  However, their degree will open the door to promotion quicker than for someone who has to gain experience to demonstrate their future potential.

The UK education system is among the leaders

Educationally, the UK does well in the comparisons with other industrialised countries. There are more children in pre-school education than most other developed countries.  This gives children an educational kick-start where formal learning starts as early as 3 years old. The funding per student in primary and secondary education is higher than average compared with other developed countries – despite the constant news about lack of funding for schools. Although tuition fees for higher education are higher in the UK than in other countries (other than the USA), the system of financial support makes it much easier for students to take advantage of attending university, even those who are from poorer families.  Consequently, it’s not surprising that the UK’s proportion of students attending university is high.

There are still gaps

Despite all this good news, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) director for education and skills, Andreas Schleicher, observed that standards of basic numeracy and literacy are still basic, even when the student has achieved a degree in a specialist subject. To some extent the university attended also has an impact on employability.  Some employers are looking for degrees achieved from one of the Russell Group universities. The other influencing factor is, of course, the subjects studied. While any degree demonstrates an ability to research, understand and manage information, a degree in Ancient History may not help to get a management position in insurance. This means that while following a passion may make the time spent at university exciting and, possibly, may result in a better degree, it’s worth considering the job opportunities where the subject studied will have a real impact.