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Razvan Sassu

President & CEO/ Founder, Young Initiative Association

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Higher or vocational education? Higher education for masses or for the elite?

In the last years the idea that higher education can actually be considered a bubble took shape and is increasingly brought to debate. In more and more countries there are dozens of students graduating and instead of entering the workforce, they go straight to unemployment.

With some notable exceptions (like Computing, Medicine etc.) there are a lot of degrees that hold little value for the student after graduation, especially in developing countries (I am including here Romania, my country). In some holding a degree is a requirement merely because you "learn how to learn", regardless of the topic of your studies. The quality of the courses is often lacking and the graduates are simply unemployable if they do not get a part-time job or volunteer in an organisation during their studies.

Unemployment of youth in some countries is getting higher than ever, with Spain topping at a whooping 54% rate.

Moreover, in other countries students also pile a lot of debt which they cannot sometimes repay, and they are stuck with thousands of dollars/euros that have to be payed back in a lot of years.

On the other hand, there are a few countries like Germany, Switzerland, Finland or Sweden where vocational education is very solid. Students are divided based on their academic results (which indeed raises a lot of ethical and liberty questions) so the best can pursue a higher education degree, the others a technical degree, then vocational schools and so on. This way most of graduates can easily find employment and also get a qualification that they can use to start earning money.

What do you think governments should endorse in the future? Should the education system be reformed so vocational training is highly encouraged and higher education is reserved only for the best students? How? Or should higher education be made available on an even larger scale for as many students as possible, prefferably at the lowest costs for the students?


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    Apr 27 2012: I have lived many years in a developing country and in Germany, And believe me, you don't want to separate the students at early ages, there are many cases where the most successful students in college or on their jobs where really lazy at school. That's something that I think it's hurting a lot Germany.

    I think the problem is somewhere else. We live on a globalized world, now you don't compete with your peer on your city but with your peers around the world. That's why it's so hard to find a job. The other huge factor is the mismatch between the demand of jobs and offer of professionals. Maybe people should start thinking about that before they choose what to study. Maybe universities and Governments should advertise where the demand is to the young people.

    I don't know what could resolve the unemployment problem or the mismatch of the professionals market, but I know less education in any sense would be terrible.

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