Saturday 1 October 2016

Embarking on a new educational journey

Published 17/08/2015 | 06:00

All the indications are that those with a third-level qualification have higher earnings over a lifetime than those who left the education system earlier
All the indications are that those with a third-level qualification have higher earnings over a lifetime than those who left the education system earlier

Congratulations to the record number of applicants who receive college offers this morning from the CAO. It's one of a number of records broken in a year which has seen better grades in the Leaving resulting in higher points for many courses, especially those that students believe will get them good jobs when they graduate.

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Going to college is expensive for students and their families. But parents see it as a worthwhile investment, as all the indications are that those with a third-level qualification have higher earnings over a lifetime than those who left the education system earlier - not always, but generally. Graduates also have a lower unemployment rate than those without third-level qualifications.

This is hardly surprising, as an increasingly complex and technologically-driven society demands higher levels of education from its citizens. Projections show that the economy will need a rising supply of people with higher-level skills well into the future. Not all of these skills will be learned in third-level colleges, and many young people decide that higher education is not for them. In fact, one in five who got their Leaving Cert results last week did not apply to the CAO and choose to follow different paths. Some will go directly into the workplace, while others will enrol in colleges in further education or else sign up for one of the broader range of apprenticeships announced recently by Education Minister Jan O'Sullivan, where they will also acquire urgently needed skills.

Of course, education is not just about acquiring skills and information for work, it's also about preparing young people for life as citizens in a modern, multi-cultural society. They need to be prepared for a fast-changing environment and a lifetime of changing careers which could include periods of unemployment, unwelcome as that may be. Those young people who got their results last week and are about to start college or go a different route are entering a time when lifelong learning will be the order of the day.

Causing commuters pain is not the answer

In industrial relations there was a slogan: "united we bargain, divided we beg". There is a lot to be said for bargaining and even more for being united, but there is nothing to be said for calling a strike that will target the very commuters who pay your wages, while simultaneously you undermine your future employment.

That is why the decision of the National Bus and Railworkers Union to recommend pulling the trigger on stoppages is so regrettable.

The workers have been hit by pay cuts and demands for more productivity. They have also been subject to a rise in violent attacks.

Their grievances are legitimate, but they do not confer the right to engage in disruptive action that will result in commuter chaos for thousands.

Iarnród Éireann's financial footing is far from ideal. Over the past six to seven years, it has racked up losses of €150m. Walking off the job should always be a last resort.

There are recognised procedures for dealing with industrial-relations crises, but holding the public to ransom does not serve anyone's purpose in the long run.

However fractious relationships have become, negotiation is nonetheless the only way to proceed.

Irish Independent

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