Today’s education system is a hodgepodge of Victorian schools, designed for a smokestack factory economy, and Enlightenment-era universities, which focus more on expanding the stock of human knowledge than on preparing students for a career.
Many new grads have no idea what it means to format an Excel spreadsheet, write a line of code, or write an effective email.
PwC recently removed the 2:1 degree requirement for its graduate program. The motivation was a desire to increase diversity – but it was also a tacit recognition that the university system is failing. The company found that “academic qualifications alone are not an indicator of potential in the workplace”.
These shortcomings are not new. Businesses have known for years that new entrants to the job market are ill-equipped to deal with reality. Graduate job fairs and training contracts are intended to ease the transition from lecture hall to office.
But the crisis is now critical. Industries are moving at an ever faster pace, while education is still moving behind, if at all. The gap between the two threatens not only the job prospects of future graduates, but also Britain’s economic prospects.
Employers recognize this and take matters into their own hands. Multiverse partners – which include Trainline, MasterCard, Rolls-Royce and Travis Perkins – will all pay for their apprentices to earn degrees with Multiverse, as well as salaries.
The seeds of this crisis were sown by Blair Snr. While Prime Minister Tony Blair set himself the goal of getting 50% of young people to go to university. This was achieved in 2017 and Blair recently called for a new 70% target in a bid to catch up with Asian economies like China and Japan.