This country needs fewer graduates
The Times Britain needs to ditch its obsession with university education, says Ed Conway. For years, we’ve been trying to push up graduate numbers in the hope of improving the country’s skill levels, and therefore productivity. But this “quantity over quality” approach has had the opposite effect. We now have a bloated, but not especially well-educated, graduate class that finds it ever harder to secure suitable jobs. According to employers, almost 40% of new workers studied the wrong subject for their eventual job – the “highest such level in the developed world”. A “startling” 15% of workers today are “overqualified” for their job. The Government wants to redress the imbalance by encouraging apprenticeships and technical education. Yet, unlike in Germany, these options are still seen as “a second-class choice”. Even as the worth of degrees has declined, they’ve retained an unwarranted snob value: businesses still pay graduates about 30% more than the average A-level student. Breaking this link is the key to improving Britain’s productivity – and its levels of social mobility.