Fearless and Truthful: Uni is for mugs.

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    This is not to discourage anyone whose ambition is to graduate from the university with a degree. This is like the caption says fearless and truthful as it applies to modern day workplace. I graduated from a Nigerian university with a first degree, and proceeded to the UK for my masters degree in HR.  I value university education and I appreciate the exposure it brings to those who really want to learn beyond the paper qualification. But in modern day, mere going to university has sort of become archaic to the realities of the workplace.

    After my masters degree, I couldn’t secure a job immediately because I didn’t have the practical experience in my chosen career so I started volunteering to gain practical work experience. The HR manager of the organisation I applied to volunteer never went to university (so he told me) but has acquired so much skills that put him ahead of any graduate. His pay is 2 times a graduate starting salary. He started working since after obtaining his GSCE, he started from volunteering, to internship to work placement. He acquired a number of employability skills, underwent several training and did many online courses. By the time he was 19, he got his first real job and has since then risen to several posts. He holds a CIPD which is one of the highest and most recognised qualification in HR. He is just 26.

    Depending on your experience (not degree certificate) the UK has an agenda for pay which has a starting salary called spine point for each grade (Band) and despite the fact you may have a bachelors or masters degree, if you don’t have practical work experience, demonstrable and transferable skills, you will be started on the lowest spine point of the job grade you apply for. The HR manager told me he could still go back to Uni if he wants to but you know what he said….there’s really no point for that. “I don’t have any education grant am owing the government, am good” he  added.

    In Nigeria, young people are not given the opportunities for internships, voluntary jobs or work experience. Most organisations would outrightly tell you they don’t take such. So you see many secondary school leavers in the country wasting away while waiting to pass JAMB that will take them to university. Parents sell lands, borrow from friends and live in debt just to see that their child attends university. Sometimes, after these, the child is not able to secure a job to complement the efforts of the parents. The time between leaving secondary school and waiting to enter a university is a very important phase and defines so much. If volunteering or doing internship or any sort of work placement, your interest might change and your career prospect might also change.

    While in that phase you will discover who you really are, what interests you and what your future prospects are. Students while at university in Nigeria do not acquire any skill as part of the curriculum hence they are never prepared for challenges outside the university. Every Nigerian undergraduate spends all the years in university worrying about passing paper courseworks, exams and graduating. This results in many graduates not having skills nor the resourcefulness to forge ahead outside the university.

    Now recently, I was watching these professionals on TV discussing University with title: Uni is for Mugs.

    There were five people in the panel of discussion, 3 (2 females, 1 male) of them didn’t go to university and they are quite very very successful. Two of them run their own businesses, and have employees who work for them. The other is an operations manager in a very big firm.

    She said:

    “Pushing our children to university is pushing them into an archaic view of the work place. It’s often parents fulfilling their view of success, a boast towards their friends. Familiarise yourselves with your surroundings and prepare yourselves for the years head.”

    “What you really need to get on in life is Gumption, Common sense and a set of Balls. And that my friend you can achieve without going to university.”

    Who agrees? It’s open for debate!

    Copyright. Ugochi Idika.

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