Education (reloaded)

Today I was driving back home, listening to the radio. During advertising time, University of Venice was self promoting, with its beatiful facilities in the magic city and the over 40 courses available. The avertising concluded with a descrpitive statistics, supposed to convince the most suspicious: 88% of their graduated find a job within 5 years.
If you studied statistics and probabilty theory at school, you certainly know how incomplete this sentence is. Would really have loved to see the frequency distribution (percentage of students finding a job for each incremental year after graduation).
Anyway, the fact that they had to extend until 5 years to include at least the 88% of the observed population, did not make me feel exicted enrolling one of their classes.
Trying to guess about the value of the median (I know I am fussy but I hate incomplete statistics info), I started thinking (wanted to be positive) about a bell starting from zero (graduated immediately starting their job at day 1) and calculating probably over 60% of graduated in Venice having to wait for two, three, four or even five years before finding a job.
Wow. That’s really a long time.
Try to think about the speed of time when you were 25, or better, think about what you did in two years from 25th to 27th.
It’s a long time. Too long.
Any time higher than 6 months to find a job after graduation is unacceptable to me (at the age of 25 of course, there could me some retired people enrolling again to do something, getting their degree and becoming statitics ouliers).
For several students, University is not combined with job. It’s pure formation period. This means that University of Venice (considering mean graduation time being 6 years) is keeping 88% of their pupils far from the job market for eleven years. The fact that the registrations are decreasing is not necesseraly a bad news.
What are the missing students doing during those eleven long years? Going to bed early?

Would you expect University enrollment to go down more during recession or during economy growth/recovery?
What would have been your answer 20 years ago?
Well consider this: everyone agrees that University has become in the past 15 years much less selective and demanding. This was intentionally done to attract more enrollment. Despite that, the enrolment declined massively.
The opportunity cost of attending University, in fact, increased very much as you are intentionally deciding to stay out of the job market and to re enter it much later.
But today, job market is different and very much saturated, Nevertheless, it is not saturated for everyone, but it is saturated mostly for graduated.
[There is an interesting funny movie I am recommending you ( )]

So two things happened: Universities tried to respond to the market crisis by turning graduation experience into something much easier. The market (shrinking) did not like that and moreover the opportunity cost of Univeristy attendance raised (especially indirect costs of having an unproductive family member for over 10 years).
Number of students then reduced, so direct costs of Universites had to raise as well.
In total, the cost of attending an “easy” and almost for everyone University education skyrocketed.

But an easy expensive parking is today something only very rich people can afford, so a huge amount of youngsters entered the job market, and covering roles ignored by graduated, all interested in competing for high profile roles and higher salaries.

Guess what this resulted in today?
Masters degree disappear from resumes of 35-40 years old people (who attended the University that worked, so well trained people).
This omission paradoxicaly let them pass through severe screening where a upper bound in formation is more strict than the lower bound.

Education as we knew it does not work any longer. New disruptive paradigms of education are required.
Companies are askign for innovation, do you “learn” innovation at University?
Does University prepare you for becoming an enterpreneur? Can you lear to search or recognize new business (from the beautiful city of Venice campus)?
Everybody is targeting “management” as final destination, and in order to get ot management you are supposed to have a MBA, which requires (money first and) a Univeristy degree which requires (money and) time to be spent out of the job market. Then you are trapped.

Spend time to learn how to be reliable (rather than a “people leader” or a manager), learn how to “master” basic useful skills, get used to bring things from A to Z.
And never trade time for a promise, especially if the promise is “88% of our people find a jon in max 5 years”.
Oh come on!

Good luck folks

This post is dedicated to a friend whose far-sightedness is great, who understood that a step back in this crazy world is a step forward if you know how to take it the right way. I am sure he will succeed in achieving his dreams, as any experience is just a step. I am so proud of beign his friend as I wouldn’t be if he was the pompous manager some schools prepare for.


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