“Who says you can’t put a value on education,” points a friend illustrating a chart by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. The results favor the relationship that the higher the education, the lower rate of unemployment. Yet, these numbers do not give any more comfort to those who may have a job with less education, and especially to those who are currently jobless or under-employed (educated with more schooling or not).
Yet this chart raises some important questions about the connection between education and work. So what can we learn about this issue?
First, maybe we need to start a different discussion. For example, some philosophers have questioned the ‘centrality of work’ and its dominating role in our society. Other thinkers see work as giving essential meaning to our personal lives. Nevertheless, because many people still need to work, these kinds of discussions can come up empty if not tied to real-life solutions.
Here is where the role of education is critical. I would agree, it doesn’t help a jobseeker to hear that he or she must take more time, to spend more money, to get more education without any guarantee of a job waiting at the end.
Therefore, there must be a closer link between education and the certainty of work. One of the drawbacks to selling the need of education is that it looks like an isolated pursuit, disconnected from the real world and current issues. More education requires a measure of time, patience, and money that appear unavoidable, yet conflicts with our technological, high-speed, microwave era.
Simply there’s no time. People want their degrees now, expressed as wanting to learn what’s needed today-in-a-day. Offering alternatives may devalue the traditional process of education and undermine the efforts of those who have put in additional time and effort.
But what if education was apart of the job? Not just continuing professional training for people with some level of experience and expertise; but rather positions for those with no experience, where jobs are created upon changing needs and connected to local schools, colleges, and universities for approved instruction and support.
A suggestion in this different discussion would be for us to turn the old expressions such as “hands-on-training” and “learning on the job” into serious strategic approaches to pursuing work while getting an education: Sort of working internships for adults where a person who has a job, or looks for one, is fulfilling the needs for more education, satisfying the requirements for current credentials, and hopefully securing the paths for continued employment.