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Take It When You Can

by Editor on September 17th, 2010

I will happily take my validation where I can get it.  The September 11th, 2010, edition of The Economist included an article about the value of education to earnings, and the types of work that graduates end up with.  It included the following paragraph, along with an illustrative chart:

“The ‘education is good’ mantra does not work everywhere (see chart). In some countries many students have to be content with the intellectual rewards of

Education doesn't always help...

From The Economist. (Right above Poland - what a coup!)

study. In Spain, for example, 44% of college- and university-educated youngsters are working in low-skill jobs. America, Canada and Britain also have high shares of graduates working in jobs for which they are overqualified. In lucky Luxembourg hardly any graduates end up in menial jobs.” [The emphasis is mine.]

Yes, well … I’m big on this point, as readers of my column “The Jobs and Education Con Game” will surely recall.  I think we are kidding ourselves if we are not able to be more specific about the different kinds of education — and the different value they offer.  Not all jobs are created equal, neither are all forms of education, and there cannot possibly be a perfect and unwavering connection between simply having a college degree and higher earnings.  In the United States, where it is easy to get a college education but not necessarily easy to get a good college education, that point seems clear, and is underscored by The Economist‘s chart.

This should deter no one.  I believe in education for the sake of the mind.  But for the sake of the mind, let’s stop pretending that formal, higher “education” solves every problem.

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