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Cornell Student Articles on Topical Affairs

How education prepares youth for employment

Education has been thought to be the stepping stone from poverty to financial stability. Currently, there is an increase of one million graduates since 2013 according to World Economic Forum. The numbers are ten times higher than twenty years ago. This study is only conducted in China but the States have also had an increase and nations around the globe face the same epidemic: too many graduates in the wrong field who lack the necessary skills.

There are many reports supporting this fact and as such, those hoping for a bachelors should take into consideration the state of the economy and the required skills in order to achieve employment rather than pursuing a degree blindly for the sake of recognition.  

While education is necessary, think of it as a foundation needed to acquire more skills rather than a means to an end. The employment market is constantly undergoing changes and invention, new positions and careers requiring a whole different level of knowledge or range of skill sets. It is no longer the narrative fed through the ages: find a career path and pursue it until retirement comes around.

What means to be employed is drastically different today as compared to yesteryears. Individuals juggle a whole myriad of jobs, some overlapping with pre-existing skills and others in a whole other field. Technology has opened a world of opportunities and it is up to people to mould themselves into ideal employees. It is no longer impressive to have a PHD if one does not possess soft skills such as being initiative, sociable and flexible with the ability to work independently.

Since 2015, an Australian foundation have been releasing a series reports regarding “economic forces (automation, globalisation, collaboration) shaping the future of work, changing education to employment pathways and the transferrable skills and capabilities required to survive in the changing world of employment”, called The New Work Order. The idea is that while new jobs will pop up over time, old jobs will also go extinct. Their argument being the birth of automatons and much like the revolution of factories, put millions out of a job. Therefore, it is practical to prepare future generations for drastic changes rather than holding on stubbornly to old practices.

The Guardian illustrates this point eloquently, pointing out the invention of app developers after the release and subsequent success of the iPhone. They go on to share that “when a young person trains or works at one job, they acquire skills and capabilities that will help them get 13 other jobs”, effectively making skills a valuable asset to any one person.

Unsurprisingly, Forbes reported that job recruiters value knowledge more than they do degrees. Jobseekers are “beginning to realize that several years of learning at university is no longer  sufficient to succeed in the world of work”.What we must accept about this new reality is that it is not the paper alone that employers want. It might have been true for previous generations as only those of prestige or capable of winning a scholarship would have the chance to pursue a higher education and therefore proving their worth to employers. But in this day and age, employers are getting more demanding with the range of skills they require, particularly soft skills. In order to find the best-fit jobs, and for employers to find the best-fit candidates, potential employees need to showcase who they are beyond their paper credentials.

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