A recent review of Hong Kong tertiary education system on ATV’s Inside Story (April 24, 2012) should have alarmed many people, especially academics and human resources mangers on the overall quality of the new workforce. Some particular comments made by those interviewees, which I found unbelievable, are as follows:
1. Taking a degree after an associate degree is a gambling! There is no guarantee I would be able to make more.
2. I am making less than those who have Form 5 qualification only. Why should I waste that two years on the associate degree?
3. I can have no dream. No house, no marriage and no nothing!
My comment to these people is wise-up! Think long-term prospect!!! We all know that all advanced economies are moving toward knowledge based economy and all high value-added tasks would require not only an undergraduate degree but post-graduate. Yes, you may make less than a Form 5 graduate working as a shop manager or what not, how about in the future? How much upside do they have? How about yourself?
In addition, undergraduate degree is just a stepping stone for you to fine tune your skills and expand your knowledge in a postgraduate degree. As I’ve mentioned, more jobs will require an advanced degree or other professional qualifications as one of the basic requirements. Without a degree, it’s almost an equivalence of road blockssssss!
Confucianism, a Chinese tradition with more than 2000 years of history, emphasizes education. Education is more than just getting your a well-paid job. It’s about building your soft and hard skills. If your whole objective is to get a degree and get a job, you will be doomed because you are not aware of how important life-long learning is. The most important skills, on top of the hard technical skills, one should take it with them from a degree are critical analytical, problem solving and self-learning skills. With these skills, you know where to get help, when to get help and how to get help. Without these skills, you are worse than a robot with good A.I. real soon!
Although their comments are ridiculous, in my point of view, it is important to understand the underlying contributing factor(s) of their beliefs. Have our teachers and schools implanted the good moral percepts? emphasis on education and knowledge? How about their families? There are many possibilities but this is a warning signal to our government, teachers, and parents. Our labour force is unlikely to be able to compete with other advanced economy in the future, with the type of people we saw in the programme. Knowledge is power cannot be more true than ever.