Thursday, June 30, 2011

Credential inflation = PhDs working at McDonalds

Look folks, it's simple supply and demand and market overload.  The more folks you force through the higher education system, the more folks you have with degrees (educational quality on these degree factories, which include the Ivys, is a post for a different day). 

What happens then is that jobs that used to need a high school diploma will now want folks with a bachelors, bachelors-level entry positions will require masters degrees, and positions requiring a masters will then want PhDs.  (This excludes the TSA, which does not require even a high school diploma.)

All it will do is force people either into incredible amounts of debt to the federal government (so we'll be subsidizing this fiasco when they default because they can't find a job that will allow them to pay their loans back), or force them out of the workplace.  It will also create a dearth of skilled labor, such as plumbers, electricians, and mechanics--you know, those jobs that make the world move.

As Alison Wolf says in this article,

...degrees are of importance to employers ‘all over the world’. They act ‘as a sort of sifting mechanism’, or as she puts it in Does Education Matter?, ‘a way of ranking, screening and selecting’ people. ‘From an employers’ experience’, she continues, ‘while the degree’s not a perfect indicator, it is useful… they’re using it as a basic IQ test, an indication that people can buckle down and work for three years and to some degree, and sometimes very much, for specific skills.’ That’s why ensuring that as many people have a degree as possible, ‘at the expense of quality if necessary’, is counterproductive: ‘The quickest way to halve the value of a degree overnight is to say, “we don’t care about quality anymore, we’re going for quantity”’, notes Wolf.
It's like the Federal government printing money.  The more that is printed, the more worthless it is.  The meme that a college education will gain you greater financial rewards is a myth that is going to become more apparent as the market is overwhelmed with newly-minted graduates seeking the golden ring they've been promised and coming up with the Golden Arches and a boatload of debt instead.

4 comments:

quizikle said...

We need more jobs for "uneducated" people that can do something rather than more jobs for "educated" people that can't do anything.

(Met an ex-Navy guy last weekend using his veterans benefit for an advanced degree in history. Interesting topic, but a degree? For what? To discuss the legality of Southern Secession while delivering pizza?)

"Dr." Q

Midwest Chick said...

The problem is the American public (world public actually) has been brainwashed into thinking that white collar actually is more important than blue collar work.

Kirk said...

I have no degrees (got a certificate of completion from the New York Institute of Photography, which I'm quite proud of, but as has been painfully pointed out in the past, that's not a "degree"), and spent 10 years in retail after 6 years as a nuclear engineer in the Navy. Worked with several...um...."individuals" in retail who were quite proud of their bachelors or masters degree, and would expound at great length upon the fact that they were therefore better than me...in between checking customers out at the register, of course. Degrees mean very little these days, as is evident by the highly educated cashiers at McDonalds.

Midwest Chick said...

Kirk, you bring up a good point. Part and parcel of this cluster***k that they call higher education is the sense of self-importance and entitlement that accompanies a degree. And the higher the degree, generally, the higher the level of self-importance.

As a side note to my readers who are academics, there are, as in all things, exceptions to this but they are getting fewer and farther between.