Tag Archives: qualifications

International league tables for quality of schooling

Further to the 2 Million Minutes post, which I strongly encourage you to watch the video links from –

Thanks to Zara in year 13 who spotted this week’s BBC article about the rise of Shanghai to the top of the international league table in the global PISA rankings for quality of education. Well worth a read.

2 Million Minutes

2 Million Minutes, that I told you about in KS4/5 assembly, is a programme about the amount of time in total that American Seniors have in High School – basically, year 9 upwards. It compares two able children in each of the US, India and China and what they’re doing to make sure the have the best qualifications and break into the career they want.

You can watch the much-reduced summary videos on YouTube: part 1 and part 2, totalling about 15 minutes.

It’s worth bearing in mind not just the moral point (how lucky you are to be born where you were, to parents with a decent income, and attending a well-resourced school with excellent standards, highly qualified staff and small classes – most of the world does not have this) but also the sense that

  • if you’re not careful you’ll waste these natural advantages of incredibly supportive teachers – do you really think any employer is going to give you second chances at homework, 6 weeks’ close support to do a personal statement or tolerate poor work? bosses won’t be as forgiving or supportive as teachers
  • whilst young people in those other countries don’t have anything like the advantages you do, many of them – many millions of them! – realise that education could be their only route out of poverty, and work incredibly hard for it… are you sure you’re working as hard as them?

We don’t want you to be terrified of the career market, or think you have no future. You’re bright, engaged young people with great prospects. But don’t sleepwalk. Step it up.

It’s grim, but here’s the facts about the job market

I really do wish I didn’t have to bear this kind of news, but don’t shoot the messenger.  Students thinking ahead to careers need to realise they’re looking at a very, very bleak jobs future. Here’s a summary of some recent Telegraph articles to this effect.

With an ever-increasing number of potential employees holding good degrees, it’s worth noting that the degree is no longer a meal ticket to a good career – rather, it’s the bare minimum and you can still end up in low-paid jobs with a degree. This is particularly the case since the recession of 2007 –>, with some reliable workforce analysts speculating that the UK jobs market won’t recover for nearly a decade-and-a-half. Meanwhile, low- to middle-paid earners (the majority of the population) have seen their share of national wealth (and their prospects of social mobility) fall dramatically in the past few decades: women and those without well-off parents to support them early in their careers have been especially hard-hit.

In one article particularly worth reading in full, it notes that two-fifths of all employees are over-qualified for their job and that, despite a massive skills shortage in the UK, employers still feel there is a poor match between the skills of candidates and jobs available. Depressingly, even being very qualified can leave you without a post, even after lots of successful career experience – the moral of the story here is that qualifications are the bare minimum for success, and you will also need to be able to market yourself well to potential employers. Soft skills like salesmanship, personability, and initiative are critical: the world is not waiting to give you a job – you have to go after it yourself.

On the brighter side, here’s a lovely short slide show of ten major growth industries for the next couple of decades – careers you should really be considering as a student now.